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Pakistan to release schedule for presidential polls on March 1, Zardari poised to win

The six-party alliance set to form a coalition government under Shehbaz Sharif selected former President Asif Ali Zardari as its consensus candidate for the top post. Zardari served as Pakistan's president from September 2008 to 2013.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Updated on: February 27, 2024 23:00 IST
Pakistan, presidential elections, Asif Ali Zardari
Image Source : PTI (FILE) Former Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari

Islamabad: As the recent elections in Pakistan went through much criticism, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is now preparing for its upcoming presidential elections which Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is all but expected to win. The top electoral watchdog said the schedule for the presidential election will be announced on March 1.

"A public notice will be issued alongside the schedule for the presidential polls on March 1st," Geo News quoted a statement from ECP. "Nomination papers for the aforementioned event would be accepted by March 2, 12 noon." The nominees have been asked to submit their documents concerned to the presiding officers, it added.

Earlier, the ECP had approached the high courts on February 23 regarding the conduct of the polls for the presidential slot slated for March 9, 2024, in which it advised the appointment of chief justices of the relevant high courts as the presiding officers as per past tradition. The commission stated that it was mandatory to conduct the presidential elections within 30 days, and the first session of all assemblies 21 days after the general elections.

The announcement came after the National Assembly Secretariat summoned the lower house of parliament’s session on February 29 at 10 am. This happened after President Arif Alvi rejected the summary from the caretaker parliamentary affairs ministry to summon the first session of the newly elected National Assembly session on February 29 and maintained that all reserved seats be allocated before the summoning of the session in which newly-elected members of the National Assembly will take oath.

Alvi, inclined towards the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, was a senior member of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan's party before the cricketer-turned-politician made him the country's President in 2018. After the president’s denial, National Assembly outgoing Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf decided to convene the session of the lower house of parliament on February 29.

Asif Ali Zardari expected to become President

After a substantial delay, a six-party alliance is set to form a coalition government at the Centre under the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shehbaz Sharif. It has already announced Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari, 68, as its consensus candidate for the country’s top constitutional office.

Zardari has previously served as the president from September 2008 to 2013. With neither the PML-N nor PPP securing a clear majority in the February 8 polls, they decided to form the coalition with a deal that PPP’s Zardari would get the President’s post while PML-N supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz would get the post of chief minister of the Punjab province.

As per Article 41, the election of the president must be conducted within 30 days following the conclusion of general elections, voting for which was held on February 8. The ECP was set to hold the election for the post by March 9 or 10, two days before the retirement of half of the senators after completing their six-year term.

Meanwhile, Murad Ali Shah was re-elected as the Chief Minister of Sindh province for the third time in a row as he took oath of office on Tuesday. Murad secured 112 votes, while the candidate of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Ali Khursheedi secured 36 votes.

PTI announces nationwide protests against rigging

Imran Khan's party on Tuesday announced a countrywide protest on Saturday against the alleged rigging in the February 8 elections that has prevented the party from returning to power. The party's Secretary General and its candidate for the prime minister's slot, Omar Ayub reiterated "large scale" rigging in the polls. 

"Our seats were stolen with just a stroke of pen. The people gave the mandate to the former PTI chairman. Nation's mandate and our seats have been attacked," Ayub said. He said the PTI would protest in courts and assemblies across the country.

The party also lashed out at Maryam Nawaz becoming the CM of Punjab province, dubbing her as a "fake CM". PTI has been claiming that Maryam had lost her seat with a margin of over 800 votes in the February 8 polls besides the party's over 100 Punjab Assembly seats that had been stolen.

(with PTI inputs)

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