ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The widower of slain former leader Benazir Bhutto will succeed Pervez Musharraf as president of Pakistan after winning a landslide victory in Saturday's election.
Partial results announced by officials after separate votes in the federal and provincial assemblies show that Asif Ali Zardari won an overwhelming majority of the votes.
Pro-Zardari lawmakers, some in tears, shouted "Long live Bhutto!" as the results came in. The couple's two jubilant but tearful daughters, one carrying a portrait of their late mother, smiled and hugged friends in the gallery.
But Saturday also brought a brutal reminder of the threats to the nuclear-armed nation's stability when a suicide car bomber killed at least 13 people and wounded dozens in the northwestern city of Peshawar.
Already head of the main ruling party, Zardari becomes one of the most powerful civilian leaders in Pakistan's troubled 61-year history. Last month, he marshaled a coalition that forced longtime U.S. ally Musharraf to quit as head of state.
Zardari, a novice leader stained by past corruption allegations, takes over at a critical time for this volatile, nuclear-armed Muslim nation of more than 160 million.
Pakistan's economy is crumbling and Saturday's attack was the latest in a string of suicide bombings usually claimed by Islamic militants who have steadily gained strength since Pakistan joined the U.S. war on terrorism in 2001.
Washington is pressing Pakistan to eradicate Taliban and Al Qaeda havens near its border with Afghanistan. A U.S.-led ground attack said to have killed at least 15 in Pakistan Wednesday sparked outrage and embarrassed Zardari's party.
As expected, Zardari trounced Mushahid Hussain, a senator from the pro-Musharraf party routed in February parliamentary elections, and Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui, a former judge nominated by the opposition party of another ex-prime minister, Nawaz Sharif.