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President Asif Ali Zardari waves as he leaves the Presidential Palace after his farewell ceremony in Islamabad  - Photo by AFP
President Asif Ali Zardari waves as he leaves the Presidential Palace after his farewell ceremony in Islamabad - Photo by AFP
President Asif Ali Zardari (C) inspects the guard of honour during his farewell ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Islamabad - Photo by AFP
President Asif Ali Zardari (C) inspects the guard of honour during his farewell ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Islamabad - Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari, one of the most powerful civilian presidents the country has ever had, stepped down on Sunday, leaving his official residence after a record five years in power.

He retires six years after his wife’s murder in December 2007, and is the first democratically elected president in the history of Pakistan to fully complete his constitutional tenure and be replaced by another elected individual.

His successor, Mamnoon Hussain, is to be sworn in on Monday, September 9.

The 58-year-old widower of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, arrived at Aiwan-e-Sadr in a traditional carriage amid much pomp and fanfare. He was treated to an honour guard by the armed forces and shook hands with the presidential staff before being driven away from the presidential residence in a black luxury saloon.

He plans to leave for Lahore soon after the ceremony, where he intends to reside at Bilawal House.

Analysts count his government's completion of a full term in a hostile political environment to his credit, as well as his strong stance against Islamic militancy. However, they say that economic mismanagement hurt Zardari's popularity as a leader.

Earlier, he had agreed to a constitutional amendment that transferred many of the president's powers to the prime minister, leaving his position as largely ceremonial.

In an interview broadcast on Saturday, Zardari declared his intention of re-organising his party, which suffered a crushing defeat against the PML-N in the elections held in May. He added that he did not wish to run for Prime Minister in the future.

Presidential spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, also gave in his resignation today, after the honour guard was presented to Zardari. He declared that he would now be spokesman for the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

Comments (40) Closed

Khurram Khalid Sep 08, 2013 05:44pm

Well done Mr Zardari. Your contribution to strengthening democracy in Pakistan as its president will always be remembered.

M. Siddique Sep 08, 2013 05:50pm

How about the looted wealth of the country?

Karachi Wala Sep 08, 2013 05:57pm

The wonderful smile and the ability to somehow put everyone from MQM to ANP to Q league in the same basket will be missed.

Ramesh Manghirmalani Sep 08, 2013 06:06pm

I am so pleased for him and the country-Good luck Mr President, May Allah be with you in every walk of life

Moeen Sep 08, 2013 06:26pm

Good riddance to bad rubbish. Most corrupt President in Pakistan's history.

Khan Sep 08, 2013 06:44pm

@Khurram Khalid: Khurram are you that naive?....

Do you even realize what he has achieved?

you must be one of those guys who he paid to shut their mouths!!!

Rogers Evans Sep 08, 2013 07:02pm

Whatever, one may say about his making money, Zardari deserves credit for promoting democracy in Pakistan. May he live long ! Well done, Mr Zardari.

NASAH (USA) Sep 08, 2013 07:05pm

A well deserved honor.

Tariq Ali Khoso Sep 08, 2013 07:44pm

may Allah blessed him. Live long president Zardari.

MSA Sep 08, 2013 08:03pm

Zardari was known as Mr. Ten Percent. He is the most corrupt politician in the history of Pakistan. During his five year term, he destroyed the country in every way. At the end of his term, he is given the guard of honor and all the fanfare. Question arises: does this nation has any memory and any sense of shame?

trq Sep 08, 2013 08:25pm

What about the rampart corruption, and what about the wealth he looted from people of Pakistan??. Everybody tends to forget what damage he did to our beloved Country. He should be held accountable for all this

Javed Afridi Sep 08, 2013 08:31pm

Say whatever you want, but this is an important milestone for Pakistan.

The successful transition of power, and the honourable roll out of one president to the next.

Pakistan Zindabad!

Habib Rahman Sep 08, 2013 08:33pm

Ask this sick media and these politicians what the democracy did for the nation other than looting , syphoning fund abroad and remained under IMF debts and raised the national debt over and above maximum of 62% of the GDP as these looter could not generate enough revenue to pay itself as the the GDP growth under these democrates remained under 4% since 1950.He left the country in the dark with terrible loadshedding and billion dollars roughly 14B$ on non development projects like BISP and transfer the pennyless govt to another govt on IMF loans.If some one want to look for growth and development , it will be the military led govts from 6.8% for Ayube khan, 6.5% for ZIA shaheed and 7% GDP growth for Musharraf govt, the highest growth in the history of Pakistan.

sarmad Sep 08, 2013 08:46pm

A job well done!

M Afzal Sep 08, 2013 09:03pm

Pakistan has gone through many histories since its independence and completing 5 years as a president is a giant step towards democracy. Mr. Zardari has set an example to a society full of turbulence and disturbances. Mr. President, although there was no peace in the country during your tenure, Rupee has almost devalued double since you became president, may you live in peace, wherever you may be.

Irfan Sep 08, 2013 09:28pm

Pakistan have a lot of blind, deaf, and spineless people who are praising Zardari for completing his 5 years without looking and analyzing where Zardari brought Pakistan today. Loyalty to PPP is more important for these people than love for Pakistan. No wonder we are suffering from the hands of our own.

Zia ur rehman Sep 08, 2013 10:40pm

Zardari undoubtedly is politician of immense depth and farsightedness. His contributions towards strengthening democracy will always be remembered in golden words. Well done Zardari.

Mubashir Ali Sep 08, 2013 10:57pm

sometimes good came out of bad, Hope the next one will be better than zardari...

kirther Sep 08, 2013 10:54pm

Instead of congratulating Zardari the people of Pakistan must be congratulated for tolerating menace created by PPP government.

Noroz khan Sep 08, 2013 10:57pm

Can someone tell me please what he did for the suffering people of Pakistan ?. Dollar down, unemployment, inflation sky-rocketed, more killings, kidnapping and corruption. Yes he made 93 expensive foreign tours mostly for his pleasure at public expense. No doubts he did best for himself, we will find out later how many billions dollars are gone missing

hasan Sep 08, 2013 11:00pm

The people of Pakistan deserved a president like Zardari. We are a dead Qaum. The proof is in Zardari's 5 year term.

Parvez Sep 08, 2013 11:15pm

Does an honour guard make a person honourable ......... or does it take something else ?

Modi Sep 08, 2013 11:32pm

@Khurram Khalid: Are you serious?

Pak's Well wisher Sep 08, 2013 11:31pm

@M. Siddique: He will say, do not worry I will do more loot on the side till next five years and come back in power to do more legally :)

Azfar Sep 09, 2013 12:50am

@M. Siddique:

Name someone who was "elected" and who have not known to loot the country, yet were pawns, with no power and say. He, though not the role model in every sense, did complete the tenure, relinquished the powers of the President he had to the PM for the better future and Yes like all said, was able to put everyone/every party in its place with a smile.

Tirahwaul Sep 09, 2013 12:55am

Homage to the outgoing President. You were different & impressive than all the previous presidents. best of luck

m. a Sep 09, 2013 01:31am

Zardari is very happy that he completed his 5 year time as the President. He is also very happy that he accomplished what he wanted honestly without any corruption. He is happy that the people will remember his great work for many generations to come. He has promised Nawaz for a good help so that he could also be proud like him. He promised to remain his friend, care taker and a good opposition.

Pankaj Sep 09, 2013 01:49am

One of the most powerful civilian presidents the country has ever had ??? What powers he had exactly ?

Ahmed Sep 09, 2013 02:58am

Put him behind the bars, open Swiss cases and pay off Pakistan's debt.

pkPatan Sep 09, 2013 03:27am

@M. Siddique: and who has not looted the country before him, Mr Siddique?

Sh Sep 09, 2013 03:33am

Very Well done president Zardari. You really deserve the guard of honour after giving all your powers to the parliament and strengthening the democracy.

Qasir Sep 09, 2013 03:44am

"One of the most powerful civilian president" who did NOTHING for civilians

R.s Sep 09, 2013 04:38am

Democracy.. democracy. democracy. i wish people could Dig into how it all originated. democracy is a huge monopoly for total control of your mind. ears and damned eyes.

keep up the support, people. We will surely make it to an "end".

pathanoo Sep 09, 2013 04:42am

Take it or leave it. But he is the only President who survived a full term. For that, if for nothing else, he deserves credit. His survival gives Democracy a ray of hope in Pakistan.

Omar Sep 09, 2013 05:00am

Honor guard???!!!! He should be taken to jail with an armed guard!!! We've survived 5 years of this disgrace ..... Does he need anymore???

Shahzad Akhund Sep 09, 2013 05:14am

As the President of Pakistan, and even a political leader, for that matter, one is exposed to constant allegations, criticisms, etc. Asif Ali Zardari, in a rare show of statesmanship, kept focused on the most difficult task of establishing democracy in Pakistan; and he did it. Hats off to his leadership.

TLW Sep 09, 2013 05:25am

Good job Mr Zardari.

You've proved yourself a politician's politician.

Completing the full mandate of your term whilst taking fire, tired your opponents, outfoxed them and strengthened democracy in Pakistan.

The fun will be missed.

Sonal Sep 10, 2013 12:14am

Our subcontinent is in such a sorry state. A person who has little in his repertoire other than successfully completing a five year term and making history is being awarded the guard of honour. It doesn't take much to please the nation, does it!!

khanm Sep 10, 2013 05:13pm

Zardari has learned his lesson and has become a polished politician.. He strongly believes in give and take and knows that politics in Pakistan is an earnest business

a Sep 10, 2013 06:22pm

Great. Now throw him in a prison cell for all the corruption, and disgrace he has brought upon us Pakistanis during his tenure. He has no shame.