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September 4, 2018

Alvi all set to be 13th president

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September 4, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Because of the divide that the opposition parties and PPP have so far failed to bridge, Dr Arif Alvi will most likely be elected as the 13th president of Pakistan in the presidential election today (Tuesday). Arrangements at the Parliament House and the four provincial assemblies are in place for the election.

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) with the support of its allied parties has fielded Karachi-based Dr Arif Alvi, whereas Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians’ presidential candidate is Aitzaz Ahsan. JUI-Fazl’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman is in the poll arena on the behalf of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and some other opposition groups.

It is believed had the opposition parties been able to field a joint candidate, they would have made a match against PTI’s candidate. However, the PPP, PML-N and other parties failed to sink their differences and this will be to the advantage of Dr Alvi, who is most likely to replace PML-N’s Mamnoon Hussain, whose five-year term ends on September 9.

Unlike the PTI and PPPP, which actively moved around to garner support for their respective candidates, the PML-N and other opposition parties were not seen much enthusiastic to campaign for their candidate.

In a meeting with Asif Ali Zardari on Monday night, Maulana Fazlur Rehman offered conditional withdrawal from the presidential election in favour of PPP candidate Aitzaz Ahsan only if PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif approved it, said sources.

“If you convenience the PML-N and Shahbaz Sharif, then I am ready to withdraw my candidature from the presidential election,” sources quoted Fazlur Rehman as telling Zardari during the meeting, which was held here at the Zardari House.

They said the deadlock still persists as the PML-N president did not agree with the proposal for having Aitzaz Ahsan as the joint presidential candidate by the opposition.

Following the conditional offer of Fazlur Rehman, the PPP delegation left to hold a meeting with the PML-N. It would also meet Shahbaz if he was in Islamabad to convince him to support Aitzaz. The PPP delegation comprised Syed Khursheed Shah and Senator Mian Raza Rabbani. Shahbaz Sharif has reportedly been firm on his stance that the party will not vote for Aitzaz.

During the meeting at the Zardari House, besides Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the JUI-F delegation had his son Maulana Asad Mehmood, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri and Senator Faiz Muhammad. The PPP delegation had Aitzaz Ahsan, Syed Khursheed Shah, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Senator Sherry Rehman and Qamar Zaman Kaira.

During the meeting, Fazlur Rehman said he was a candidate of the opposition parties while Aitzaz Ahsan was a candidate only of the PPP. Talking to newsmen after the meeting with Fazlur Rehman, PPPP Secretary General Farhatullah Babar said the PPP will not withdraw the candidature of Aitzaz Ahsan.

He said during the meeting, Fazlur Rehman presented his viewpoint. “We have told him that Aitzaz Ahsan is the best candidate for the presidential election,” he said. He said, “We have told Maulana Fazlur Rehman that he was a mediator to convince the PML-N and Shahbaz Sharif. Maulana Fazlur Rehman said he was a candidate of the opposition and the PPP needs to convince the PML-N for support as he could not make a decision on his own.”

Farhatullah Babar said the PPP has requested Shahbaz Sharif for his support to Aitzaz Ahsan and is waiting for a positive response from him. He was hopeful that Aitzaz Ahsan could be the opposition’s joint candidate if the PML-N agrees.

Prior to the meeting Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Zardari met BNP-Mengal Chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal to seek his support for Aitzaz. Aitzaz Ahsan, Syed Khursheed Shah, Raja Pervez Ashraf and Qamar Zaman Kaira accompanied Zardari during the meeting. Mengal was accompanied by Senator Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldeni.

The voting will be held through secret ballot and out of a total of 1,174 legislators, 1,121 can exercise their right to vote in the presidential election. Up to 53 seats are vacant while some returned candidates have not yet taken oath as lawmakers.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza is the returning officer for the electoral exercise while the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has provided voters lists and ballot papers to the chief justices of the four high courts, who will be acting as presiding officers. The chief justice of Islamabad High Court will perform this duty at the Parliament House.

Election of the president is conducted under Article 41 of the Constitution for a term of five years and the minimum age for a candidate to contest the presidential election is 45 years. Polling will begin at 10:00am and continue till 4:00pm.

Presiding officers will announce the results of the respective (polling stations) legislatures, however, the final result will be made public by the chief election commissioner.

Muhammad Anis adds: Talking to newsmen at the residence of Sardar Ayaz Sadiq along with PML-N and other supporters after meeting with PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari, Fazlur Rehman said he would not be a hurdle if all opposition parties agreed to support Aitzaz Ahsan as a joint candidate.

Sardar Ayaz maintained that the PML-N would support Maulana Fazlur Rehman. He pointed that PPP neither took the PML-N into confidence on the nomination of Aitzaz Ahsan nor they voted for Shahbaz Sharif in elections for the Prime Minister.

He said the decision to nominate Aitzaz was taken in haste, saying Maulana would secure more votes than the PPP candidate. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, while referring to his meeting with PPP leaders, said that Asif Zardari asked him to secure support of other opposition parties for Aitzaz Ahsan. Maulana Fazlur Rehman said he conveyed the message of PPP to Shahbaz Sharif and it was difficult to have a united candidate of opposition. Maulana said that Asif Zardari also talked to him separately.

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