Islamabad: In a golden moment in Pakistan's chequered 66-year political history, President Asif Ali Zardari today left the presidency after successfully completing his five-year term, paving the way for India-born Mamnoon Hussain to take over.
Zardari is the first elected President to complete his constitutional tenure and to be replaced by an elected individual in Pakistan's history that has witnessed numerous military coups.
He was given a guard of honour, which was not attended by either the Prime Minister or the three service chiefs.
However, Sharif had hosted an official farewell lunch for Zardari earlier this week and praised him for keeping the flag of democracy flying in the country.
Zardari, 58, left for Lahore where he is expected to spend his days working on the revival of his Pakistan Peoples Party which was dealt a crushing defeat in the May 11 general election.
Husband of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Zardari had a controversial term but was able to keep democracy on track.