Zardari sworn in as Pakistan's new President

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Islamabad, Sep 9 (UNI) Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari was sworn in as Pakistan's 12th President today, three days after being elected to office by federal parliament and four provincial assemblies.

Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Doggar administered the oath of office to Zardari, who became the co-chairman of the party after the assassination of his wife Benazir Bhutto in December last year and saw his party won a majority of seats in the National Assembly after the February 18 election.

The main hall of the presidential palace, which is known as ''Darbar Hall'', reverberated with slogans of ''Long Live Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto is alive'' as Zardari signed the oath.

Hundreds of party workers, top bureaucrats, armed forces chiefs, diplomats, federal ministers, provincial governors and chief ministers and leaders of political parties attended the ceremony.

''I accepted the presidency in the name of Benazir Bhutto and all martyrs of democracy,'' Zardari told a press conference which he jointly addressed with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai, who especially dashed to Islamabad to attend the ceremony.

He said: ''We will stand together with our neighbours and our people,'' adding he would work to promote friendly ties with neighbours and forge reconciliation at home.

This was Karzai's first visit to Pakistan since December last year when he had also met Benazir Bhutto followed by serious misunderstandings surfacing between the two countries with Kabul asking the US to launch direct military action across the border in Pakistani tribal regions to deal with militants and terrorists.

''I had discussions with Zardari on issues facing our two countries in the war against terror,'' Karzai said.

He added he found in new Pakistani president a goodwill and vision to deal with such problems.

Karzai said the new Pakistani government has the intention to check terrorism, extremism and militancy.

''Bonds between the two countries are very strong. We never actually blamed Pakistan in the past and merely pointed out the problems,'' Karzai said, while defending his administration's hostile postures towards Pakistan.

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