Asif Ali Zardari has swept to victory in Pakistan’s presidential election. Unofficial tallies gave him 480 of the 702 electoral college votes in Pakistan’s national parliament and 4 regional assemblies.
His election completes an extraordinary saga which saw him take up the mission of his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, after her assassination while campaigning in December, 2007.
After his election Zardari said, “Democracy talks and everybody hears and to those who would say that the People’s Party or the presidency would be controversial and under a guardianship and under a stewardship, I would say: listen to democracy, 99% of the people have spoken”
While a controversial figure in Pakistan, his election was welcomed by the United States. Zardari has praised the US and has stressed Pakistan’s commitment to the campaign against militancy.
In addition to curbing extremism, Zardari also has to contend with a host of problems. The Pakistan economy is in tatters and a split in his party, the PPP earlier this month, raises the spectre of political upheaval similar to that of the 90’s..