Pakistan: Zardari completes term as President, Mamnoon Hussain to take office

KIn Pakistan, this is the first time an elected president gives way to another constitutionally elected. Seen here is Zardari, the man who was president of Pakistan since 2008 (IE)

In a golden moment of orderly transition, Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari left the presidency on Sunday after successfully completing his five-year term, paving the way for India-born Mamnoon Hussain to take over.

Zardari is the first elected President to complete his constitutional tenure and to be replaced by an elected individual in Pakistan's history that has witnessed numerous military coups.

He was given a guard of honour, which was not attended by either the Prime Minister or the three service chiefs.

However, Sharif had hosted an official farewell lunch for Zardari earlier this week and praised him for keeping the flag of democracy flying in the country.

Zardari, 58, left for Lahore where he is expected to spend his days working on the revival of his Pakistan Peoples Party which was dealt a crushing defeat in the May 11 general election.

Husband of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Zardari had a controversial term but was able to keep democracy on track.

Zardari, as President, remained in the eye of storm for holding dual office and faced allegations of using the President's house for partisan politics and ignoring key issues facing the country.

He faced a strong and assertive judiciary which pursued him over multi-million-dollar corruption cases against him in Switzerland.

The casualty of the struggle was then Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was sacked for refusing to ask Switzerland to reopen the cases.

Another big crisis for him was the 'Memogate scandal' and also the unilateral US operation in May, 2011, in the garrison city of Abbottabad that killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

While the President's post is largely ceremonial, Zardari, as the chief of the then-ruling PPP, played an active role in the functioning of the government.

However, he later had to give up the party post after pressure from the judiciary.

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