Sharif described the event as "historic" as for the first time in the country's 66-year history, an elected Premier was bidding farewell to an elected President who is completing his five-year tenure. (Agencies)
"This is an unprecedented golden chapter being added to the annals of our history. It’s a new history in the making," Sharif said.
Sharif credited Zardari, the de-facto chief of the main Opposition Pakistan People's Party, for introducing the 18th constitutional amendment and restoring the 1973 Constitution. Zardari and Sharif, in their statements at the luncheon at the Prime Minister's House, acknowledged the warmth and support extended to each other despite their political differences.
After the 2008 polls, the PML-N joined a government led by the PPP but the coalition ended within six months. The PPP was routed by Sharif's party in the election held in May.
Recalling the "pleasant memories" of a meeting in Jeddah with Zardari and his slain wife Benazir Bhutto, and the signing of the Charter of Democracy in Dubai, Sharif said a spirit of goodwill prevailed among them for restoring democracy in Pakistan.
Sharif said memories could be both sweet and bitter but his heart was only filled with pleasant ones and he wanted to bid adieu to Zardari with sweet memories. He said his memories were so fresh that he could still smell the scent of roses presented to him by the daughters of Zardari and Bhutto at a lunch hosted by them in London.
He further said he could not forget the grief when he paid a visit to Naudero to condole the death of Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007. Sharif paid tribute to Zardari for completing his tenure by upholding the "spirit of reconciliation and introducing the spirit of personal rapport and camaraderie in politics".
"I am saying goodbye to you with all the sincere wishes and prayers. I am sure that your party, in your leadership, will continue its democratic traditions," he said. "The prosperity of country and its people and strengthening democracy is our common agenda."
Sharif asked President-elect Mamnoon Hussain to serve the country in the same manner his predecessor did. Zardari said his PPP will fully support the PML-N government and would not involve itself in politicking before the announcement of the next general election.
He stressed the need for parties to respect each other’s views rather than ridiculing and humiliating each other on TV channels. Zardari said he had some painful memories of the arrest of Bhutto and their children at the Prime Minister's House some years ago. He however added, "I never let these affect me and I turned my pain into my strength."
Sharif described the event as "historic" as for the first time in the country's 66-year history, an elected Premier was bidding farewell to an elected President who is completing his five-year tenure.