Democratically Elected Pakistani President is First to Serve Full Term

Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari finished his five-year term today, making him the first democratically elected leader in the country to complete a full term.

The 58-year-old, whose wife, two-time Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was brutally assassinated in 2007, stepped down today and his successor, Mamnoon Hussain, will be sworn in Monday.

Zardari apparently filmed an interview, airing tomorrow on local Pakistani channel Geo TV, in which he smokes an electronic cigarette, feeds his cat and talks about amendments he made to the country's constitution.

Although Zardari has earned the distinction of being the first to serve a full term, Pakistan's presidential office is "largely ceremonial" and the New York Times has detailed many of his missteps.

He faced a hostile judiciary, led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who constantly challenged his authority. Relations with the powerful military also remained tenuous, falling to their lowest point soon after the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. A purported letter written to the American government asking for help to avert a possible military coup led to the removal of Husain Haqqani, a close Zardari ally and ambassador to Washington. Mr. Zardari himself survived a nervous breakdown and spent several days in Dubai, undergoing medical treatment.

[image via AP]