Asif Zardari is released after eight years in prison

Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of former Prime Minister &to=http://' target=_blank> Benazir Bhutto was released Monday on $16,900 bail on the last of numerous &to=http://' target=_blank>corruption charges that have kept him in prison since 1996.

Mr. Zardari, 52, earned the nickname of "Mr. 10 Percent" while Ms. Bhutto was in office for his reputation of demanding kickbacks on government contracts, but his allies have always insisted the corruption charges were politically motivated.

Ms. Bhutto, who served two terms as prime minister from 1988 to 1996, and was forced out of office on counts of corruption each time, has been living in a self-imposed exile since 1999, shuttling between London and Dubai.

Mr. Zardari's release on Monday elated opposition party members, who danced with joy outside a hospital in the southern port city of Karachi, where Mr. Zardari has been undergoing &to=http://' target=_blank>medical treatment. But they also expressed fears that he might still be barred from traveling outside the country, informs the NYTimes. According to BBC News, Asif Zardari was released on bail on Monday after eight years in prison facing corruption and conspiracy to murder charges.

He also said he hoped his wife, who lives in self-imposed exile, would now return to Pakistan. Ms Bhutto denied any deal had been done with the government to free Mr Zardari.

Mr Zardari called his release a victory for democracy and for the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), which his wife still leads. Mr Zardari was released from detention in hospital in the southern city of Karachi, where he was being treated for various ailments. Former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto has denied she struck a deal with President &to=http://' target=_blank> Pervez Musharraf to free her husband from jail, but said leaders from her opposition party had held "political reconciliation" talks with government officials.

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