Asif Ali Zardari Poised to Secure Second Term as Pakistan’s President in Saturday’s Election

March 9, 2024 2:37 pm

Asif Ali Zardari Poised to Secure Second Term as Pakistan's President in Saturday's Election

In a political move that signals a strategic alliance, former Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari is on track to be elected as the 14th president of the country in the upcoming election scheduled for Saturday. The 68-year-old, who previously served as president from 2008 to 2013, is set to replace the incumbent Dr Arif Alvi, whose term ended last year but continued as the electoral college was yet to be formed.

Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and a prominent businessman-turned-politician, is supported by the coalition government led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). This coalition, formed after the February 8 polls resulted in a fractured mandate, involves a quid pro quo deal where PPP supported PML-N’s candidate for the prime minister’s post, and in return, Zardari secured support for his presidential bid.

This election marks a historic moment, as Zardari is set to become the first civilian to be elected for a second term as president. His candidacy faces a challenge from Mahmood Khan Achakzai, head of the Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), running under the platform of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), which gained prominence after independent candidates backed by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) joined its ranks.

The ruling coalition, confident in its majority across various assemblies, predicts that Zardari will secure over 400 electoral votes. The opposition, primarily dominant in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assembly, faces an uphill battle.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has actively campaigned for his father, assuring lawmakers in the PML-N-dominated Punjab Assembly that Asif Zardari would take care of their interests, just as he cares for his son. The election process, as per the Constitution, involves an indirect election by an electoral college comprising federal and provincial lawmakers, with the polling stations set up in the Parliament House and provincial assembly buildings.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has scheduled polling from 10 am to 4 pm, with eligible voters including members of the National Assembly, senators, and representatives from provincial assemblies. The PML-N-led coalition expects a decisive victory for Zardari, who is poised to lead the country for a second term.

Meanwhile, outgoing President Dr Arif Alvi was accorded a farewell guard of honor on Friday, making way for the new president. Despite his term expiring in September 2018, he continued as a caretaker due to the dissolution of the National Assembly and provincial assemblies in August 2023, ahead of the February 8 general elections.

In a last-minute plea, Achakzai, the opposition candidate backed by Khan and PTI, demanded the postponement of the elections, citing incomplete representation in the electoral college. Achakzai argued that vacant reserved seats in national and provincial assemblies would result in a denial of votes, infringing on fundamental rights, law, and the Constitution.

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