‘Zardari had serious mental illnesses’

August 26th, 2008 - 7:13 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 26 (IANS) Pakistan’s presidential candidate Asif Ali Zardari was diagnosed with a range of serious mental illnesses over a period of two years up until last year, a British newspaper reported Tuesday quoting court documents filed by his doctors.The Financial Times quoted documents as saying the ailments included dementia, major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Zardari, who leads the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), spent 11 of the past 20 years in Pakistani prisons fighting corruption allegations, during which he said he was tortured.

However, the paper quoted Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Britain, as saying Monday the PPP leader had subsequent medical examinations and that his doctors had “declared him medically fit to run for political office and free of any symptoms”.

“You have got to understand that while he was in prison on charges that were never proven, there were attempts to kill him,” Hasan said, speaking on behalf of Zardari.

“At that time, he was surrounded by fear all the time. Any human being living in such a condition will of course suffer from the effects of continuous fear. But that is all history.

“In fact, many people were very impressed to see Mr Zardari go through the trauma of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, but still hold himself together, hold his family, especially his children, close to him at this very difficult time,” Hasan added.

The Financial Times said it had seen references to the medical diagnosis in court documents filed by Zardari’s lawyers to argue successfully for the postponement of an English High Court case in which Pakistan’s government was suing him over alleged corruption.

The case was dropped in March this year.

In the documents, a New York City-based psychiatrist, Philip Saltiel, said a diagnosis in March 2007 showed Zardari’s imprisonment had left him suffering from “emotional instability” and memory and concentration problems.

“I do not foresee any improvement in these issues for at least a year,” Saltiel wrote.

Stephen Reich, a US psychologist, said Zardari was unable to remember the birthdays of his wife - assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto - and children, was persistently apprehensive and had thought about suicide, the paper reported.

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