Asif Ali Zardari elected as the president of Pakistan

_Asif Ali Zardari elected as the president of Pakistan

Pakistan: On Saturday, Asif Ali Zardari was elected as the new president of Pakistan by lawmakers, marking his return to the largely ceremonial constitutional office for the second time. The 68-year-old widower of the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto secured 411 votes from members of the national and four provincial parliaments, while his opponent, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, received 181 votes, according to the election commission.

Zardari, the joint candidate of the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, previously held the presidency from 2008 to 2013 during the rule of his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The swearing-in ceremony for Zardari is scheduled for Sunday.

Achakzai, who was backed by the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party led by the jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan, faced defeat in the presidential race. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif congratulated Zardari, expressing that he would symbolize the strength of the federation.

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The presidential election followed the general elections on February 8, during which widespread allegations of rigging were raised, aiming to keep Khan’s allies out of power and maintain the military-backed PML-N’s dominance. Imran Khan, the ousted prime minister and cricket hero, faced a parliamentary vote of no-confidence in 2022, led by then-opposition leader Sharif. Subsequently, Khan has encountered numerous legal challenges and is currently serving lengthy prison terms on charges of corruption, fraudulent marriage, and leaking state secrets.

Khan vehemently denies any wrongdoing, attributing the charges to politically motivated actions orchestrated by the powerful military, which has played a significant role in Pakistan’s governance since gaining independence in 1947. Despite civilian claims of military interference, the security institution denies such allegations.

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