ISLAMABAD: Asif Ali Zardari, one of the most powerful civilian presidents the country has ever had, is set to vacate Aiwan-i-Sadr on Sunday after holding the office for a record five years.

He will make history by becoming the first elected president to complete his constitutional tenure and to be replaced by an elected individual.

Senator Farhatullah Babar, the President’s spokesman, told Dawn that after guard of honour on Sunday, Mr Zardari would leave for Lahore, where he would be received by PPP leaders at Bilawal House. He confirmed that his belongings had already been sent to Karachi.

During his days as president, Mr Zardari remained in the eye of the storm for holding dual office and faced allegations of using the Aiwan-i-Sadr for partisan politics and ignoring key issues facing the country. But on the other hand, his supporters say he made history by taking steps for strengthening democracy and made possible the transition of power from one civilian government to another.

Mr Zardari kept on drawing his power as chairman of PPP during most of his tenure, but the situation is likely to change as Mamnoon Hussain’s traits are seen to be in contrast. He has no personal powerbase like Mr Zardari and hence the office of president will now once again become a ceremonial figurehead.

Mr Zardari’s fans and followers praise him for his role in the passage of important pieces of legislation, including laws empowering women against domestic violence and sexual harassment. They also point out the passage of 18th Amendment as a major achievement of Mr Zardari, pointing out that he voluntarily surrendered his vast power to strengthen parliamentary democracy.

His aides describe as baseless propaganda the reports that Mr Zardari will spend most of his post-retirement life abroad and insist that he will stay in Pakistan and reorganise PPP which suffered a crushing defeat in the May 11 elections. Many criticise him and his policies for a decline in the popularity graph of the party, but his aides defend him by saying that he faced crisis after crises, and even managing to survive in this environment was an achievement. They cite the tension with judiciary, Memogate scandal and ‘conspiracies by state and non-state actors’ as some of the reasons which kept him restricted.

Mr Zardari rose to prominence after his marriage with Benazir Bhutto in 1987. Between 1993 and 1996, he held various cabinet positions in the second Benazir-led government. He was arrested on charges of corruption in late 1996, following the collapse of the Benazir government. Although incarcerated, he nominally served in parliament after being elected to the national assembly in 1990 and Senate in 1997.

He was released from jail in 2004 and went into self-exile in Dubai, but returned home in December 2007 following Ms Bhutto’s assassination, days after promulgation of the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) by then military ruler retired General Pervez Musharraf.

Mr Zardari was one of the beneficiaries of the NRO which was purportedly aimed at promoting national reconciliation, fostering mutual trust and confidence amongst holders of public office and removing the vestiges of political vendetta and victimization. As the co-chairman of PPP he led his party to victory in the 2008 general elections. He spearheaded a coalition that forced Gen Musharraf to resign, and was elected president on Sept 6, 2008.

AFP adds: Mr Zardari said he would not seek to become prime minister and would instead focus on leading his party after stepping down.

“I will not try to become the prime minister.” he said in an interview with a private TV channel.

“In my view running the party is more important than becoming prime minister,” he added.

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Comments (21)

Syed
September 8, 2013 6:47 am

Asif Zardari will make history in many things. Especially the most corrupt President.

Syed Ahmed
September 8, 2013 7:47 am

Zardari is a historian - he also made history by entering in to politics through back door, than mega corruption, tying down Pakistan in massive loans and leading the country to the brink of disaster.

Ahmed Soomar
September 8, 2013 7:50 am

Ms. Bhutto , his brave father and Mr. Zardari of PPP are real trend setters and well deserved to be remembered in history

Tahir M
September 8, 2013 10:32 am

Gosh, that must have also been the longest that a person has ever lived in a dwelling of self imposed hideout in fear of being assassinated.

malik
September 8, 2013 11:09 am

good riddance

Imran Rizvi
September 8, 2013 11:26 am

Thanks God.

Imran Rizvi
September 8, 2013 11:24 am

Thanks God.

Khan
September 8, 2013 12:03 pm

All said and done Zardari has left behind an unenviable legacy.He did not bring any laurels to the office of the President nationally and internationally. History will not remmember him with good words.As for as socalled 'strengthening of Democracy' is concerned, well let us leave that for another occasion.

Khanm
September 8, 2013 12:25 pm

Mr. President.... Good is something who delivered and allowed the country to over come the obstacles, giving the citizens enough attention to boost their morale and their ego. You are leaving a profound impact on our culture that morality and integrity does not count. Great is the president who leads his country to achievements and good performance and value that no body was expecting it had. Now that you are leaving the government to those who either born with silver spoon in their mouth or could not get better job in the first place… thank you Mr president.....

hamza
September 8, 2013 12:27 pm

Day to celebirate that the Pakistani nation is going to get rid of most notorius and corrupt president of the history,May Allah help us to get rid of other corrupt politisians. Allhamdoliliah

hamza
September 8, 2013 12:40 pm

Nawaz Sharif patner and brother Zardari is leaving office realy a sad day for Sharif and Co

Gerry D'Cunha
September 8, 2013 2:31 pm

from today onwards he is going to spend most of his time in dubhi or london, only come to karachi for party conferences

iffti
September 8, 2013 3:20 pm

Zardari not seeking to become prime minister, amazing. He has never stood for general election. once may be for a councilor which he lost.

Masoud
September 8, 2013 4:31 pm

I am not a supporter of Zardari nevertheless I cannot ignore the fact that President Zardari is a brave man who faced a bizarre attack on him & his family with a laughing face. Very few peoples could withstand the mockeries Zardari was subjected to

edwardian
September 8, 2013 4:41 pm

Thank God he wasn't given Guard of Honour in a Hockey stadium on an astro-turf pitch like Musharaf. The last president saw military boots on delicate synthetic hockey pitch. That day was the official death of the sacred national sport.

Saeed
September 8, 2013 5:12 pm

President Fazal Elahi was the first democratically President to complete his five year term from 1973 to 1978.

Ali
September 8, 2013 5:22 pm

He solved no major problems during the five years that he was totally at the helm of affairs, he appointed two crooked PM`s and there was no economic development during the years he was in office and he was the architect of the memogate affair.He should quit politics.

M
September 8, 2013 8:11 pm

What a shame that zardari is going out instead being locked in.

Genghis
September 9, 2013 3:15 am

Out with the trash. Finally!!!

R.s
September 9, 2013 4:31 am

I'm not sure if i'm over-thinking or not.. maybe not, because i'm laughing. What else will go wrong with our country. I won't know any sooner than months. freakin' curiosity.

abdul aziz
September 9, 2013 5:50 am

@hamza: he mocked democracy and showed in practical way that Pakistani nation was needed such democracy where corruption in its refine form must exist

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