Zardari sworn in for second stint as president

Published March 11, 2024
CHIEF Justice Qazi Faez Isa administers oath to President Asif Ali Zardari during the ceremony at the Presidency, on Sunday.—AFP
CHIEF Justice Qazi Faez Isa administers oath to President Asif Ali Zardari during the ceremony at the Presidency, on Sunday.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari made history on Sunday by taking the oath as president for a second time.

He was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa at a grand ceremony at the Presidency. The two were joined by the newly-elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and outgoing president Dr Arif Alvi.

Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Sahir Shamshad Mirza were also in attendance, while PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari was seated next to them.

Many political leaders, including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, National Assembly Spea­ker Ayaz Sadiq, former federal ministers Sherry Rehman, Syed Naveed Qamar, Khursheed Ali Shah, and Ishaq Dar, as well as Sindh and Balochistan Chief Ministers Syed Murad Ali Shah and Sarfraz Bugti, and Sindh and Punjab Governors Kamran Tessori and Baligur Rehman, also attended the ceremony. However, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur of PTI did not join the ceremony.

From Mr Zardari’s family, his daughters Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari and Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari, along with her husband and Mr Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur, were also in attendance. After the oath-taking ceremony, all the guests shook hands with per Zardari as per tradition. The COAS spent some time with President Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, and Mr Bhutto-Zardari.

The CJP also had a chat with Mr Bhutto-Zardari in a corridor of the Presidency as they were leaving the building.

A day earlier, Mr Zardari had secured 411 electoral votes to defeat his opponent and chief of the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), Mehmood Khan Achakzai, who garnered 181 electoral votes, according to the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Mr Zardari is the only individual to have been elected as the head of the state for a second time and one of the four democratically elected presidents to have completed their five-year constitutional term.

Besides a large number of guests, many diplomats were also present at the oath-taking ceremony.

Xi, Raisi congratulate president

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Iranian leader Syed Ebrahim Raisi on Sunday congratulated Mr Zardari on his election as president of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

In his message, President Xi said China and Pakistan are good neighbours, good friends, good partners and good brothers, adding that the two countries’ iron-clad friendship is a choice of history and a precious treasure of the two nations.

Chinese president noted that in recent years, the two countries have maintained close high-level exchanges, supported each other on issues concerning their respective core interests and major concerns, achieved fruitful results in the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and maintained a high level of development in bilateral relations, state-run Xinhua reported.

President Raisi, meanwhile, expressed the hope that during his presidency, the historically, culturally, and religiously intertwined relations between the two countries would further develop and deepen.

Protest outside Presidency

Meanwhile, some diehard PPP leaders staged a protest outside the presidency on Sunday for not being allowed to enter the building to attend the oath-taking ceremony.

The oath-taking took place at 4pm, but the gates of the presidency were closed at 3pm, preventing many guests from attending the function.

Some guests had reached the venue even before 3pm, but were not allowed to proceed to the Presidency as they couldn’t show their invitation cards to security personnel.

Prominent among those asked to wait outside were Shahzadi Kausar and Nargis Faiz Malik. The PPP women leaders stood in front of the gate and did not even allow some diplomats to enter, saying, “If we cannot go, no one else will go inside.”

During their agitation, many diplomats arrived in their vehicles, but the protesters did not allow them to enter. Due to their protest, diplomats continued to wait outside and were only allowed to proceed to the Presidency when the function concluded.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2024

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