By K. Ratnayake
9 September 2008
Asif Al Zardari, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman and widower of former PPP leader Benazir Bhutto, will be sworn in today as Pakistani president after being elected to the post on Saturday. He comes to office amid deepening political turmoil, fuelled by escalating US attacks on Islamic militants in Pakistan’s border areas with Afghanistan and a deteriorating economy.
Zardari’s election, which was not by popular vote but in a joint sitting of the two houses of federal parliament and the four provincial assemblies, was a forgone conclusion. He received 481, or more than two thirds, of the 702 votes as compared to 151 for his closest rival, Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui, nominated by the Pakistan Muslim League-Narwaz (PML-N) and 43 for Mushahid Hussain of the Pakistani Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).
In the latest incident yesterday, the US fired as many as five missiles into a compound in North Waziristan, killing at least 14 people and injuring many others. The Dawn reported that the dead included three Taliban militants and a number of civilians, including two children. The target appears to have been a house and religious school founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani. His son Sirajuddin Haqqani is blamed by the US for attacks inside Afghanistan, including an attempt on the life of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
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