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Zardari won't run for prime minister

08 September, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari said on Saturday that he did not intend to become prime minister of Pakistan because he thinks presidential slot should be an optimum position for any politician.

In an interview with a private TV channel, Zardari said that strengthening the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) was more important for him than aiming for premiership.

He said that he would suggest retirement to old party workers and encourage youngsters to join it. He also claimed that the PPP would soon re-emerge as the biggest party of the country.

According to the president, PPP Chairman Bilwal Bhutto Zardari would contest the next general elections. Zardari said that provinces had been given more rights under the 18th Amendment, adding, "The party had differences over bestowing 58-2B to the prime minister."

To a query about his days of imprisonment, the president said; "I learnt patience during my 11-year of solitary confinement as jail starts to test your nerves after two initial years of detention."

He said that he used to watch foreign TV channels during his imprisonment to keep him up to date. He said that the letters and poetry he had written to his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto were now in the possession of his children.

"I had lost every thing before entering the President's House", Zardari said.

Separately, US Ambassador Richard Olson called on President Zardari at the Presidency.

During the meeting, the two discussed Pak-US relations, regional situation and other matters of bilateral interest.

According to sources, the US ambassador congratulated President Zardari on successful completion of his tenure and lauded his efforts for strengthening democracy.

The president hoped that Pak-US relations would be further strengthened and cooperation would be taken to new heights.

The president also hosted a lunch for the ambassador.

Meanwhile, speaking at a dinner he hosted for the staff and officers of the Presidency, the president said that unlike those who usurped powers, he devolved his powers voluntarily to parliament.

Zardari said he was glad to leave his office with dignity and honour after completion of his term. He praised the services of the staff and officers of the Presidency during his stint as president.

"We all worked in the Presidency towards a single goal of serving the nation," he remarked.

The president said that now he looks forward to working in other capacities in his party as well as for younger generation, adding that his eventual goal is to serve Pakistan and its flag.

He also expressed his good wishes for the staff and officers of the Presidency.

President Zardari will step down today (Sunday) having defied expectations by holding onto power for a record five years but facing criticism for leaving the economy and security in a shocking state.

His successor is Mamnoon Hussain. Hussain, who will be sworn in tomorrow (Monday) as the country's 12th president, is a well-respected but low-profile businessman who led a successful career in textiles.

He was elected president on July 30 by members of the four provincial assemblies and the federal parliament. He won 432 votes and his only rival, Wajihuddin Ahmed, 77, after the main opposition Pakistan People's Party boycotted the vote. He is married and has three sons who have careers in banking.


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