ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari was given a farewell guard of honour in Islamabad on Sunday, Express News reported.
Zardari, who is also the co-chairman of the beleaguered Pakistans Peoples Party (PPP), steps down as the president today, having defied expectations by holding onto power for a record five years.
He headed to Lahore after departing from the President House.
Zardari presided over the only civilian government in Pakistan history to complete a full term in office and hand over to another through the ballot box.
His successor is Mamnoon Hussain, a businessman and close ally of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif whose low-key persona and lack of personal power base puts him in stark contrast to Zardari.
He had earlier said that he will not seek to become prime minister and will instead focus on leading his party after stepping down.
Zardari's children Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Aseefa Bhutto Zardari and Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari tweeted as their father stepped down from the presidency.
Prez AAZ sacrificed 11 1/2 yrs of his life as a political prisoner fighting for democracy in Pakistan. 1/2— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) September 8, 2013
He lost his wife and I lost my mother in this battle, but we have won the war. Democracy has arrived. 2/2— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) September 8, 2013
"Asif's name will be one of those shining stars while those of his tormentors will fade from history" - SMBB (2003) http://t.co/kgXpT3iyBw— Bakhtawar B-Zardari (@BakhtawarBZ) September 8, 2013
Former president arrives in Lahore
Addressing over 4,000 party workers that had gathered in Lahore, Zardari said that he would stand by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to see the process of democracy through.
"We have to take the struggle for democracy forward," he said. "An election has to follow after five years."
The former president who reached in Lahore on Sunday said he was confident that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto was by his side.
"We established the very thing they lost their lives for," he stated, adding that Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)'s mandate had been stolen and taken away in the past.
"It would have been easy to start a fire but I have accepted this mandate. I have accepted this Parliament because I do not want politics to happen in Pakistan," he continued.
Commenting on what the future held for the party and him, he said "I no longer have the responsibility of the entire country. Now, I will meet workers, my children and my friends. I will openly interact with everyone and no once can stop that."
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