Pakistan's Asif Ali Zardari confirms he will not seek re-election as president

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 June, 2013, 2:27am


The president of Pakistan said in an interview that he will not run for another term, a decision that was widely expected after his party was trounced in parliamentary elections last month.

The interview aired on Sunday was Asif Ali Zardari's first since the May 11 election when his Pakistan People's Party, which controlled the outgoing government, won 39 seats in the 342-member House, compared to 176 for the Pakistan Muslim League-N of Nawaz Sharif.

Under Pakistan's constitution, the president is elected by members of both houses of parliament as well as provincial legislatures, making it highly unlikely that Zardari would be able to garner enough support for another five-year term.

Zardari acknowledged his party's loss in explaining why he would not run when his term expires in September.

"I don't think I will have a right. This time, we wouldn't have a right because we don't have a majority," he said.

After changes to the constitution during Zardari's tenure, many of the powers of the presidency were transferred to the prime minister. Zardari is the widower of former prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in 2007 after she returned to Pakistan to contest elections. He had little experience in politics, but rode to power on a wave of sympathy following her assassination. For the interview, Zardari sat next to a framed photo of his late wife, and a large painting of Bhutto hung on the wall behind him.

Zardari's popularity has plummeted during the course of his administration amid accusations of corruption and widespread public anger at worsening electricity blackouts that have occurred around the country.

The interview also covered matters of policy. Speaking of the contentious US drone programme, Zardari said there was no agreement with the United States over allowing drones to target militants in the tribal areas.

The CIA's drone programme is highly unpopular in Pakistan, where people consider it a violation of their sovereignty.