Watershed moment: Asif Zardari basks in afterglow of democracy

Published: September 9, 2013
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Outgoing President Asif Ali Zardari rides a horse-drawn carriage escorted by presidential guards as he arrives to receive a guard of honour during his farewell ceremony at the Presidency. PHOTO: AFP

Outgoing President Asif Ali Zardari rides a horse-drawn carriage escorted by presidential guards as he arrives to receive a guard of honour during his farewell ceremony at the Presidency. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD / LAHORE.: In epoch-making style, Asif Ali Zardari stepped down as president on Sunday, securing his place in history as the country’s first democratically elected head of state to complete his term in office.

The watershed moment is made more significant by the fact that Zardari’s last three predecessors – Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Muhammad Rafiq Tarrar and General Pervez Musharraf —were all in one way or the other forced out of office.

A guard of honour by a contingent of armed forces formally marked the end of the tenure of Zardari, who will be carrying his trademark smile right from the Aiwan-e-Sadr to Bilawal House in Lahore.

From Saturday midnight, Asif Zardari ceased to be president. So far, 11 presidents have served the country since the 1956 Constitution was adopted.

A huge fireworks display was organised by the Sindh cabinet members at midnight at Karachi’s Sea View to honour the outgoing president. Several parliamentarians and leading politicians were invited at the display.

On Monday, in what again will be a turning point in Pakistan’s 66-year history, the outgoing president will attend the oath-taking ceremony of the newly elected president, Mamnoon Hussain.

Zardari was elected president on September 6, 2008 after winning a majority in the electoral college with 481 votes of 702. He will remain the Peoples Party – the post he acquired after the assassination of his wife, the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

On reaching Lahore, the outgoing president chaired a meeting to kick off the PPP Punjab’s re-organisation campaign.

Addressing party leaders at the meeting, Zardari said that he accepted the new government’s mandate with an open heart for the sake of democracy. However, he added, “It is peculiar though that the PPP won the whole of Sindh in the May 11 election, but was wiped out in Punjab.”

He promised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that the PPP will support him in each and every step. His commitment to Sharif was a stern message to those forces that wanted to weaken democracy and favoured the bullet rather than the ballot, Zardari claimed Free from his presidential responsibilities, he said he looked forward to meeting with party workers and visit PPP strongholds. “I’ll revive the axiom of “Jeay Bhutto” (Long Live Bhutto) from Kashmir to Karachi!”

In his remarks, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, who organised the meeting, welcomed Zardari and said that he was the only President who gave away his powers to the Parliament through the 18th Amendment. He lauded the outgoing president to have pursued the policy of reconciliation and demonstrated immense patience during his five-year tenure despite incessant criticism.

In with the new

President-elect Manmoon Hussain will be sworn in today (Monday) under the third schedule of the 1973 Constitution.

A contingent of armed forces will welcome him with a guard of honour and the incoming president will then be greeted by the presidency administration.

Mamnoon Hussain, 73, was elected the country’s 12th president on July 30. He won 432 votes and his only rival, Wajihuddin Ahmed, 77, after the PPP boycotted the vote.

Hussain owns a textile firm and was president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry at one point during Nawaz’s second term as prime minister from 1997 to 1999.

In 1999, Nawaz surprisingly appointed him governor of Sindh, but his tenure was cut short when Nawaz was deposed in the October 12, 1999 military coup.

History: 11 Presidents of Pakistan

1956: Iskander Mirza

1958/1962: Ayub Khan

1969: Yahya Khan

1971: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

1973: Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry

1978: Muhammad Ziaul Haq

1988: Ghulam Ishaq Khan

1998: Muhammad Rafiq Tarar

2001/2007: Pervez Musharraf

2008: Asif Ali Zardari

* Wasim Sajjad and Muhammad Mian Soomro served as acting presidents from December 1997 to January 1998, and August 2008 to September 2008, respectively.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • aqib
    Sep 9, 2013 - 2:41AM

    ‘basks in afterglow of democracy’!!-did this glow reach anywhere from Khyber to Karachi in bringing a single benefit to the common man?

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  • BR
    Sep 9, 2013 - 3:13AM

    Farooq Leghari is missing in list, I guess!

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  • Usman
    Sep 9, 2013 - 4:24AM

    Zardari single handedly brought Pakistan to its knees in 5 years, and we honour him with handshakes and praises. Looks like we totally deserved what he did to us.

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  • Jibran
    Sep 9, 2013 - 4:28AM

    A strong leader of conviction. Legacy left by you Mr. President is going to define the future of Pakistan. We had a choice of becoming another Egypt, or a democratically viable nation. And your policy of reconciliation sir, was instrumental in ensuring that we don’t take the path taken by our middle eastern counterparts. History will remember you.

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  • khan
    Sep 9, 2013 - 7:25AM

    Correction Farooq Khan Leghari wad also President from 1994-1997..so ET do check the facts before reporting

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  • Saq
    Sep 9, 2013 - 8:16AM

    @Jibran:
    Yeah but he still could have done something to control the corruption and improve the mismanagement in governance
    Yes history will remember him

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  • NP
    Sep 9, 2013 - 9:03AM

    Im pretty sure there was this guy called Farooq Leghari who was also President of Pakistan. You know the one before Rafiq Tarar. Pretty poor research ET.Recommend

  • TH
    Sep 9, 2013 - 9:38AM

    Despite all the criticism vented at him, one ought to give respect to the sheer talent of this man. Faced with an endless list of accusations, still he manages to leave the palace in a way no one has ever done before.
    It truly must have been a watershed moment.
    One just wonders if such a talented mind had worked in Pakistan’s favour instead of his own interests, where would we be now. HAts off to him.

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  • Kamil
    Sep 9, 2013 - 10:15AM

    Pakistan under zardari regimes moved from being the 42nd most corrupt country in the world in 2009 to 34th in 2010 and 33rd in 2012 according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

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  • Sultan Khan
    Sep 9, 2013 - 10:20AM

    In December 2012, the chief of the National Accountability Bureau admiral bukhari raised his estimate of daily corruption levels from Rs7 billion to Rs13 billion a day which is around US$130 million.

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  • Humble Pie
    Sep 9, 2013 - 10:24AM

    The last 3 predecessors were Musharraf, Tarrar and Leghari (not GIK) who were forced out of their office.

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  • Javed Khan Usmani
    Sep 9, 2013 - 10:50AM

    The cost of living for the common Pakistani during zardari’s prime ministers’ governments doubled during the five democratic years with around 100-200 percent increase in the prices of essential commodities. For example, the price for a litre of petrol jumped from Rs62.81 to over Rs100; wheat flour (staple food for Pakistani families) hiked from Rs16 to Rs35 a kilo; rice from Rs46 to Rs70; sugar from Rs25 to Rs52; beef from Rs200 to Rs440

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  • irfan
    Sep 9, 2013 - 11:33AM

    Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari In office 14 November 1993 – 2 December 1997…. you missed him…….12 – Presidents of Pakistan, Now Mamnoon Hussain…..

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  • SNJ
    Sep 9, 2013 - 1:26PM

    Job Well done Mr. President; you will be remembered as Father of Democracy- Live Long!!

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  • Abid P. Khan
    Sep 9, 2013 - 4:57PM

    With all the pomp and glory which only the royalty command, he was sent off. I missed seeing rest of the family members in the royal cortege, namely Prince Bilawal and his siblings.

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  • SM
    Sep 9, 2013 - 6:04PM

    Utter nonsense that we can be proud of this “democracy” – indeed, the results are nothing more than to be ashamed of.

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