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Pakistan’s new president to be elected on March 9; Zardari frontrunner

The new president would replace the incumbent Dr Arif Alvi, whose five-year term ended last year. However, he has continued since the new electoral college was not yet formed.
Last Updated 01 March 2024, 12:58 IST

Islamabad: The polling to elect Pakistan's new President will be held on March 9, the election commission announced on Friday, a position that former president Asif Ali Zardari is almost certain to win again after nearly 11 years.

The new president would replace the incumbent Dr Arif Alvi, whose five-year term ended last year. However, he has continued since the new electoral college was not yet formed.

Alvi’s successor could not be elected due to the absence of the National Assembly and provincial assemblies which were dissolved in August 2023 ahead of the February 8 general elections.

Members of the federal parliament and provincial assemblies constitute the electoral college which elects the president of the country.

Three weeks after the February 8 elections, the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies all have newly elected members.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), in a notification, issued the detailed schedule for the presidential election.

The ECP notification said the candidates for the country's top constitutional office can submit nomination papers by March 2 before 12:00 noon. The scrutiny for the nomination papers will be held on March 4. The candidature can be withdrawn the next day.

Afterwards, the commission will publish the list of validly nominated candidates the same day and March 6 has been fixed as the date for retirement.

The polling for the next president will be held on March 9 at the National Assembly and all the provincial assemblies from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Zardari, who is a joint candidate of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), is almost certain to win. Thanks to the poor show in the elections, the two parties, along with four smaller parties entered into a post-poll alliance to keep jailed former prime minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party out of power.

Independent candidates - a majority backed by Khan's PTI - won 93 National Assembly seats. The PML-N won 75 seats, the PPP came third with 54 seats while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) had won 17 seats even as several independents later shifted loyalties and joined the coalition.

The quid pro quo arrangement between PML-N and PPP was that Zardari, 68, would be their joint candidate for the president’s post while PML-N’s Shehbaz Sharif, 72, would be the prime ministerial candidate, a deal reportedly blessed by the powerful military establishment.

Zardari, the husband of slain Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto, previously served as the president from September 2008 to 2013.

The other part of the deal was that the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, would be the chief minister of Punjab province, the home bastion of the Sharifs, while PPP gets to rule Sindh.

The opposition parties have so far not nominated anyone against Zardari.

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(Published 01 March 2024, 12:58 IST)

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