Pakistan's Presidential Front Runner Suffered from Mental Disease

This ought to cause a few sleepless nights among policymakers in Washington.

Apparently, the probable choice for Pakistani president,
Asif Ali Zardari, suffered from some unspecified form of mental illness, according to court documents in Britain:

 Asif Ali Zardari, who is favored to win the presidency in elections here next week, filed medical records in a London courtroom that stated that he suffered from a range of mental illnesses, according to an account in The Financial Times on Tuesday.

Mr. Zardari, the widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who served more than eight years in prison in Pakistan on corruption charges that were dismissed this year under an amnesty agreement, suffered from dementia, major depression disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, the newspaper reported that the medical records said.

His lawyers used the diagnosis to argue that Mr. Zardari was unable to appear in court to challenge corruption charges by the Pakistani government alleging that he had bought a British country manor with ill-gotten gains. The case was dropped in March, about the same time the corruption charges against him in Pakistan were dismissed, the newspaper reported.

Now this could very well have been a legal gambit by Zardari to escape prosecution for corruption. But just the thought of the leader of a nuclear armed country having a history of mental illness is not reassuring - especially as it relates to an already unstable country like Pakistan.

The Pakistani High Commissioner in London says that Zardari is now fine and his recent illness should not be a bar to his accepting the office of the presidency. But given the circumstances, perhaps the Pakistani parliament, who will choose the next president, should look elsewhere for a candidate.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky
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