Islamabad: Pakistani lawmakers are electing a new President on Tuesday, a race in which the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party's candidate Arif Alvi is expected to win.
Outgoing President Mamnoon Hussain's tenure ends on September 8. He had declined for re-election to a second 5-year term.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday completed preparations for the election. Polling stations have been set up in all four provincial assemblies in addition to the National Assembly.
Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Raza Khan will serve as the Returning Officer. It will be a three-man race, after the Opposition parties failed to reach a consensus on a joint candidate.
The ruling-Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has officially nominated Alvi. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has named Aitzaz Ahsan as its candidate. The third contender, Maulana Fazl ur Rehman, entered the fray after the Pakistan Muslim League-N refused to support Ahsan, who has in the past been a harsh critic of the party.
Rehman is the joint candidate of the PML-N, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), Awami National Party (ANP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and National Party. Since PTI controls the National Assembly and has majority in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab and has support of the ruling Party in Balochistan, its candidate Alvi is in strong position.
Alvi is a Karachi-based dentist-turned-politician, who reportedly stood by Prime Minister Imran Khan during his political career. The total strength of lawmakers of Senate, National Assembly and four provincial assemblies is 1,174 but as several seats are vacant, their existing strength is 1,121.
The voting system is complex, as the presidential elections are held on the basis of proportional representation to give equal representation to the four provinces. Each lawmaker of Senate (104 members), National Assembly (342) and Balochistan Assembly (65) has one vote. But the vote of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assemblies is determined on the basis of proportional representation and each assembly has been allotted 65 votes – equal to the total number of members in the assembly with the least members, that is, the Balochistan Assembly. Accordingly, 5.70 Punjab parliamentarians makeup 1 vote, 2.58 in Sindh, 1.90 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while lawmakers in Balochistan, the smallest assembly, get one vote each.
Thus, according to the law, the president is elected by the Electoral College consisting of 706 votes of all lawmakers. Alvi is likely to win easily due to division in the ranks of the Opposition.
Efforts by the Opposition parties to win each other's support continued till late Monday night. Sources in the political parties said that Rehman had a marathon meeting with Asif Ali Zardari of the PPP to win his support but he failed to convince the former president.