M A I N   N E W S

Zardari exits, makes democratic history
Afzal Khan in Islamabad

President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday relinquished the office after completion of his five-year term. He has earned the distinction of being the first democratically elected President in the country to do so.

He was given the traditional guard of honour at the Presidency by a smartly dressed contingent drawn from all three services. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the three Services chiefs skipped the occasion. Zardari later left for Lahore but will return again on Monday to attend the swearing-in ceremony of his successor Mamnoon Hussain.

Hussain has been chosen by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to fill the office which has been rendered a figurehead after the passage of the 18th Amendment. The Amendment that largely restored the 1973 constitution in its original shape and devolved powers to provinces is regarded as a rare accomplishment of an otherwise lacklustre Zardari era. Most analysts agree that last five years marked steep decline of economy, rampant corruption, mis-governance, incompetence, endless feuds with judiciary and unbridled cronyism.

Whatever the reasons, Zardari remained the most controversial political figure in the country. He chose to ignore advice to become prime minister that would have allowed him to also hold party office as against constitutional bar on president to indulge in politics. But a paranoid sense of personal insecurity and a compelling urge to immunity from prosecution on corruption charges, compelled Zardari to opt for the exalted office of President. In the end, Zardari could do justice neither to his office nor the party which was routed in May 11 election and reduced to a provincial party winning only in Sindh and being completely wiped out in other three provinces - Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.





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