Musharraf toppled. Bhutto’s widower wins presidency.

By | September 6, 2008

Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, has won a sweeping victory in Pakistan’s presidential election. The election was called after Pervez Musharraf resigned rather than risk being impeached.

Mr Zardari faces severe economic problems and a rampant Islamist insurgency that are threatening Pakistan’s stability. During the voting a bomb killed at least 15 people near Peshawar city.€  The president is elected by secret ballots in the national and four provincial assemblies.

Mr Zardari won 481 votes out of 702, far more than the 352 votes that would have guaranteed him victory, leaving his two rivals trailing far behind. In Sindh province, Mr Zardari won all 65 votes. In North West Frontier Province (NWFP) he got 56 out of the 65 votes. In Balochistan province he won 59 of the 65 votes. By contrast he only won 22 out of 65 seats in Punjab province, the heartland of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N party.

The two daughters of Mr Zardari and Ms Bhutto hugged friends in delight in the gallery of the national assembly as the results became clear. Members of Mr Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) declared the result to be a “victory for democracy”. – bbc

Musharraf was a big supporter of Bush’s war on terror. Will Pakistan’s support for the US change under Zardari?

Like his predecessor, Pervez Musharraf, a strong US ally but an unpopular figure who resigned in August, Mr. Zardari has expressed strong support for fighting terrorism. But his record on democratic reform is less convincing so far. – csmonitor

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