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Wednesday, 27 September, 2000, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
UK to help in Pakistan probe
Rockwood mansion
Rockwood Park is at the heart of the investigations
By South Asia correspondent Tanuja Solanki

Britain has agreed to hand over information to the Pakistani government about assets held by Asif Zardari, the millionaire husband of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Islamabad is proposing to trace the overseas network of properties and bank accounts allegedly held by Asif Zardari.

The decision to transfer the documents relating to the case comes after Pakistan's military leader, General Pervez Musharraf, accused Britain of not co-operating with his country in such matters.

Asif Zardari
Mr Zardari is currently imprisoned
Mr Zardari, a former investments minister, is currently serving a five year prison sentence in Pakistan.

He was convicted for involvement in the corruption which led to the downfall of his wife from the office of prime minister in 1996.

The Nawaz Sharif government which succeeded her was determined to prove that she and her husband raided state funds during her two terms as Prime Minister.

Asif Zardari was arrested in 1996 and convicted on corruption charges in 1999.

Benazir Bhutto was convicted in the same case in her absence and sentenced to five years in prison.

She has denied the charges but faces imprisonment if she returns to Pakistan.

UK haven

Earlier this year, Pakistan's military leader, General Pervez, Musharraf accused Britain of sheltering people alleged to have stolen billions of dollars from his country.

General Musharraf
General Musharraf: Pledged to clean up Pakistan
Upon seizing power last October, General Musharraf, promised to tackle corruption and set up a special anti-corruption accountability bureau.

He said that his country was being ostracised by Britain and that it had received more help from the United States and Switzerland - the latter having frozen the assets of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari.

The military government has specifically asked the UK Home Office for paperwork relating to the purchase of Rockwood Park - a nine-bedroom mansion in Surrey which is rumoured to have been bought by Asif Zardari.

Political observers say this move by the British Government will therefore be a move which will be welcomed by the Pakistani authorities.

Asif Zardari's lawyers have 14 days in which to appeal to challenge the UK home secretary's decision.

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See also:

27 Jul 00 | South Asia
Pakistani leader 'disappointed' with UK
23 Nov 99 | South Asia
UK may help Pakistan Bhutto probe
18 Apr 00 | South Asia
Pakistan traces 'millions' abroad
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