A spokeswomen for Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari says his father has died at the age of 81.

Hakim Ali Zardari was a veteran member of the Pakistan's Peoples Party, the country's largest political party.

He started his political career in 1965, helping in the campaign of Fatima Jinnah, the sister of the founder of Pakistan, against the then military dictator Gen. Ayub Khan.

He was first elected as member of parliament in 1970, then re-elected in 1988 and 1993.

Zardari spokeswoman Farahnaz Ispahani says the elder Zardari died in a hospital in the capital, Islamabad.

The state-owned news agency Associated Press of Pakistan says he suffered a protracted illness but did not give the exact cause of death.

Zardari was born in 1930 in a village in southern Sindh province where he owned farmland. He also once owned a famous cinema, "Bambino," in the city of Karachi.