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Pakistan Court Clears Zardari of Graft Charges


A court in Pakistan has dropped five corruption cases against Asif Ali Zardari, head of the party that is set to form the next government.

Mr. Zardari's lawyer, Farooq Naik, said two more pending cases will be addressed at a later date. Mr. Zardari is the co-chairman of the Pakistan People's Party, which won the most votes in parliamentary elections last month, and the widower of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Wednesday's court ruling also unfreezes Zardari's assets. In a deal last year, President Pervez Musharraf gave Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Zardari immunity from prosecution, allowing their return to Pakistan from exile.

Zardari has ruled himself out as a candidate for prime minister in the new coalition administration, which he is negotiating with the party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other, smaller parties.

Zardari spent years in jail in Pakistan on charges of corruption without being convicted and insisted the allegations were politically motivated.

He became known as "Mr. Ten Percent" for allegedly receiving kickbacks while serving as a minister during his wife's second term as prime minister in the 1990's.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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