News Analysis |
As soon as the Prime Minister was elected, the next big question in Pakistani politics was about the new President of Pakistan. Opposition parties have been divided on a number of issues since the election, including the vote for the presidency. The candidates have now been finalized, however, and the vote shall take place on September 4th.
After weeks of speculations, the names of three candidates have been finalized. Dr. Arif Alvi was nominated by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. Aitzaz Ahsan was nominated on behalf of the Pakistan Peoples Party and Moulana Fazlur Rehman is a joint candidate by the Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal and the Pakistan Muslim League-N.
The new president shall assume office in due course. However, it must be noted that the election for the president has once again exposed the rift among major opposition parties.
Dr. Arif Alvi has been elected twice as a member of the National Assembly. He is recognized as one of the founding members of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and remained the Secretary-General of the party from 2006 till 2013. He got his dental degree in BDS (Chemistry) from de Montmorency College of Dentistry, an MSc in Prosthodontics from the University of Michigan and another MSc in Orthodontics from the University of the Pacific, San Francisco. He is an accomplished doctor.
Aitzaz Ahsan is a seasoned politician and a successful lawyer. He is reputed to have topped the central superior services exam but refused to join under a dictatorship. He remained Senator from March 2012 to March 2018. He received an LLM from Cambridge and was a prominent member of the Movement for Restoration of Democracy during the regime of General Zia ul Haq. Similarly, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman is no stranger to Pakistani politics. He began his political career with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam in the early 1980s and was elected to the National assembly for the first time in 1988.
With the candidates now finalized, the voting can take place as per the law. The procedure for the election of the president is outlined under Article 41(3) of the constitution of Pakistan. The election occurs indirectly. Members of the national assembly, the Senate, and all the provincial assemblies together form the Electoral College. Furthermore, all provinces have an equal say in the election of the President through a proportionality formula.
The number of votes cast in a Provincial Assembly in favor of each candidate is multiplied by the total number of seats in the Provincial Assembly having the smallest number of seats and divided by the total number of seats in the Provincial Assembly in which the votes have been cast. In this way, larger provinces with a greater number of members of Provincial Assemblies can’t dominate the polling for president.
The Pakistan Peoples Party expressed their reservations. Similarly, there was no real agreement about the nominees for the office of the speaker National Assembly or Deputy Speaker
While the Prime Minister is the head of the government in Pakistan, the President is the head of the state and represents the “unity of the Republic”, according to Article 41 of Pakistan’s constitution. Articles 41 till 49 deal with the powers, the procedure for election and removal of the President. The President has the power to grant pardons, reprieve, and respite and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or any other authority. In addition to that, the President is also the civil-commander in chief of the military.
Although President Mamnoon Hussain is eligible for re-election for a second term in office, his nomination papers have not been put forward. His term ends on the 9th of September. The new president shall assume office in due course. However, it must be noted that the election for the president has once again exposed the rift among major opposition parties. When a candidate for the Prime Minister was to be nominated, the Pakistan Muslim League-N went ahead with naming the party head, Shahbaz Sharif.
The Pakistan Peoples Party expressed their reservations. Similarly, there was no real agreement about the nominees for the office of the speaker National Assembly or Deputy Speaker. Although the Grand Opposition Alliance did stand united immediately after the results of the general election, amid allegations of rigging and mismanagement by the ECP. Notable leaders from major opposition parties seem to have made comments that leaders from other parties deemed irreprehensible. Past rivalry seems to be the main reason for the rift. As things stand, the PTI will probably be able to get a President of its choice as well.