MR Asif Ali Zardari's victory over his rivals by a wide margin to become the 12th President of the country was a foregone conclusion. He obtained 479 electoral votes against PML(N) candidate Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui's 153 and PML(Q) candidate Mushahid Hussain Sayed's 43, as the counting at the National Assembly, the Senate and four provincial assemblies came to an end on Saturday afternoon. Enjoying the support of several other parties, the PPP's Co-Chairman will be perhaps Pakistan's most powerful civilian head of state, especially with the fate of 58(2)(b) and the 17th amendment not yet clearly determined. And unless his political support wanes, he would, in effect, retain undisputed control over affairs of the state, even though he would have these constitutional appendages removed. Now, all and sundry, both from within and the outside world that is worried at the rising phenomenon of militancy in the tribal areas and the unending violence in Afghanistan, would be having their eyes on him to see whether he is able to deliver. On the domestic front, the people not yet fully reconciled with Mr Zardari's fortuitous ascent to power would have great expectations of his government. The promised vesting of real power in the office of prime minister by making him the effective chief executive, corresponding to the practice prevalent in recognised parliamentary democracies of the world, has been a most basic demand of all political parties, including the PPP. An ineffective prime minister has been one of their major grouses against former President Musharraf. Would he, then, divest himself of the authority to dismiss the parliament and exercise undemocratic power in other fields by getting rid of 58(2)(b) and the 17th amendment of the constitution? The precarious economic situation made worse by the mounting inflationary spiral, particularly of food products, and despondency in the industrial and commercial sectors because of lack of a well-directed policy is another of the public's concern giving them sleepless nights. Going by the recent armed action by Pakistan's security forces on the anti-terror front, the United States, which is preoccupied with the thought of Al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctuaries in the tribal belt serving as a principal support behind defiance of its authority across the border, would not be unhappy at his elevation to the presidency. Notwithstanding what foreign reports about Mr Zardari's commitment to Washington on aggressively pursuing the War On Terror, the people of Pakistan sincerely hope that their elected representative would not repeat history and adopt anti-people policies la Musharraf. Not only their sensitivities but also the supreme national interest call for negotiated rather than military solution to the problem.