ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party yesterday described former President Asif Ali Zardari as indispensable for country’s democracy on his 65th birthday.

The party leaders held small birthday parties at the PPP offices across the country due to the coronavirus.

PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Zardari was the man who could create political consensus and unity necessary to pull Pakistan out of this crisis.

Zardari first served as a member of the National Assembly from 1990 to 1993 — during which time he was periodically released from prison to attend sessions — and from 1993 to 1996.

After PPP’s return to power in 1993, he served as minister of environment (1993–96) and federal minister for investment (1995–96) in her government.

In the parliamentary elections of February 2008, the PPP captured one-third of the available seats, while the party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif won one-fourth of the seats.

In March the two parties formed a coalition government. Although disagreements destabilized the administration in the months following its formation, in August 2008 Zardari and Sharif led the movement to impeach then President Pervez Musharraf.

Sharif and Zardari were not reconciled, however, and their sustained feuding ultimately caused Sharif to withdraw his party from the coalition. Zardari easily won the September 2008 presidential elections.

Zardari’s term was marked by increased US involvement in Pakistan. The United States had expanded its use of drone strikes in Pakistan to target Pashtun militants who were waging a guerrilla campaign against international forces and the Afghan government in the Afghanistan War.

In 2011 the United States located and killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. PPP Vice President Sherry Rehman said Zardari could bring unity in chaos. “Pakistan needs consensus and unity which is his political forte,” she added.

Former Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Zardari had gifted true democracy to Pakistan. He said as the president, Zardari had given up his power to make the parliament strong.

Other PPP leaders including Nayyar Bokhari. Farhatullah Babar, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Faisal Kundi and Akhunzada Chattan claimed the country needed a leader like Zardari to counter the looming challenges.