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Zardari steps down

Meena Menon
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Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad on Sunday.— PHOTO: AP
Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad on Sunday.— PHOTO: AP

In the end it was a farewell with glory and dignity. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari was given a ceremonial guard of honour on his last day on Sunday as he became the first democratically elected head of state to complete a full five-year term. However, he leaves behind a country deep in debt and a worsening security situation.

He left for Lahore soon after and will return on Monday briefly for a swearing in of his successor President Mamnoon Hussain. Though he does not hold any office in the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Mr. Zardari will have a greater involvement in the party from now on and reorganise it to begin with, his spokesperson Farhatullah Babar — who also resigned as presidential spokesperson on Sunday — said.

In spite of all the cases and indictments, he seems to have managed to keep things together, going by the fulsome praise all parties are showering on him for the role he played in the first democratic transition .

The Supreme Court hounded Mr. Zardari for not reinstating judges sacked by the military regime and he also witnessed the ignominy of having a Prime Minister sacked for failing to press Switzerland to pursue corruption cases against him.

As the Court has overturned amnesty for politicians charged with corruption, cases against him can be reactivated as his immunity ends.

However, Mr. Babar said, “The PPP has not run away from court cases and we have faced them before and we will face them in the future.”

Mr. Zardari, who returned to the country after his wife Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007, presided over the restoration of powers to provinces and to the Prime Minister and Parliament under amendments to the Constitution.


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