Zardari sworn-in as Pakistan President

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Islamabad, Sep 9: Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari was sworn in as 12th President of Pakistan on Tuesday, Sep 9, three days after being elected for the 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 his wife Benazir Bhutto's assassination in December last year. Later, the PPP won majority of seats in the National Assembly in 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.

''It is the victory of democracy,'' said Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif while commenting on Zardari's oath taking. Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza said ''it (presidency) is a people's gift to Asif Zardari and the PPP.'' Zardari's swearing-in came three weeks after President Pervez Musharraf stepped down amid threats of impeachment by the coalition government for gross violations of constitution.

The major accusation against Musharraf was to subvert the constitution firstly in October 1999 when he overthrew a democratically elected government and secondly in November 2007 when he imposed an emergency in the country and sacked dozens of judges.

Zardari later inspected guard of honour presented by contingent of the armed forces. He was escorted to the venue in a ''buggy'' by president's body guards.

Born on 26 July 1955 at Nawabshah in southern Sindh province, Zardari emerged on the national political scene after marrying late Benazir Bhutto, who served twice as elected Prime Minister of Pakistan.

An agriculturist by profession, Zardari has three children-- Bilawal, Bakhtwar and Aseefa. He served as a member of National Assembly twice in 1990-93 and 1993-96.

He was the Federal Minister for Environment and investment in Benazir Bhutto's second government but was arrested shortly after ouster of her government for involvement in dozens of corruption cases.

However, he got amnesty under National Reconstruction Ordinance (NRO) that former President Musharraf promulgated in October 2007 as part of a power-sharing deal with the PPP, which later collapsed.

He was elected unopposed as chairman of the party after assassination of Benazir Bhutto. But he nominated his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for that role and instead accepted the job of co-Chairman of the PPP.


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