Zardari steps down as Pakistan President

In a golden moment in Pakistan's chequered 66-year political history, President Asif Ali Zardari Sunday stepped down and left the presidency 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 after which he was driven away in a black luxury saloon car from the sprawling presidency at the lush green Margalla hills on the outskirts of Islamabad.

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.

The 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 a storm for holding dual office and faced allegations of using the President's house for partisan politics and ignoring key issues facing the country. 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.

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