Zardari, 58, is the first elected President to complete his constitutional tenure and to be replaced by an elected individual in Pakistan's 66-year political history that has witnessed numerous military coups.

"A new era of politics has begun in Pakistan. We want to tell the world that we will not let democracy be weakened. We want to give a message to the world that we stand by democratic forces," Zardari told jubilant Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) workers who had gathered at Bilawal House to greet him for successfully completing his term.
    
"It is easy to put fire but it is difficult to put it out. We have completed five years (in power) and now it (PML-N) will complete its term and then again a democratic party will replace it after five years,” he said.

However, while Zardari talked about strengthening the hands of Sharif he claimed that the PPP's mandate was snatched in the May 11 general elections. "We have accepted the mandate of PML-N for the sake of the country, democracy and coming generations," he said.

"How it is possible that we have won in Sindh province and lost altogether in its border, Punjab," he said.

Zardari, who is set to be elected as chairman of PPP, said he was free to mingle with workers. "There has been no responsibility of the country on me today. Now I have responsibility of my workers," he said.

Citing Taliban and extremists, Zardari said he wanted to tell those who were holding guns that "we haven't yet accepted defeat". The Husband of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto said some other forces wanted to destabilize the country and vowed to strengthen the PPP across Pakistan and Kashmir. "I am sure Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto are watching him me and must be happy with my work," Zardari said.

(Agencies)

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