Easy sailing for PTI’s Alvi as Opp fails to bring joint candidate

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Presidential elections today

Zahid Chaudhary

Islamabad

Elections to elect the 13th President of the country will be held today, for which polling will begin at the parliament house and the four provincial assemblies simultaneously at 10 am which will continue till 4 pm.
Arif Alvi of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf appears to be winning the presidential race as the opposition has failed to field a joint candidate. PPP’s Aitzaz Ahsan and PML –N backed Maulana Fazlur Rehman are the other two candidates who are vying for the seat.
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.
Briefing media men, Additional Director General Election Commission Nadeem Qasim said Chief Election Commissioner will submit the results to federal government on Wednesday.
He said according to the law, the federal government will announce the final results.
Qasim Nadeem said only state-run TV will be allowed to record the process and it will share the content with other media channels.
Outgoing President Mamnoon Hussain’s tenure ends on September 8, 2018.
The joint Opposition was to field a single candidate to give Alvi a tough time but failed to do so. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) last month nominated renowned lawyer and veteran politician Ahsan as a candidate. Other opposition parties including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz PML-N and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) opposed the move. As the differences persisted, they nominated Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
Since the PTI controls the National Assembly and has a majority in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, and has the support of the ruling party in Balochistan, its candidate Alvi is in a strong position. However, the Opposition parties are in majority in Senate. It would have been a neck to neck contest if the opposition had fielded a joint candidate.
Being the highest elected official, the president is a symbol of the federation in Pakistan but exercises powers on the recommendations of the prime minister. The president of Pakistan is elected in a secret ballot by the provincial and national assemblies and the Senate. A joint session of the parliament will begin its session at the parliament house at ten am for the presidential elections.
PTI is now the only party with members in all the elected houses. It has a total of 251 votes of its party members in the electoral college and its tally goes up to 314 if the votes of members of its allied parties — the Balochistan Awami Party, Grand Democratic Alliance, Pakistan Muslim League, Awami Muslim League, Balochistan National Party, BNP-Awami and Jamhoori Watan Party — are also counted.
On the other hand, the joint tally of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the PPP comes to 260 and if votes of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, Awami National Party, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and National Party are added, it climbs to 321.
The MQM had voted for the PTI candidate in the election of prime minister. Of the independent votes, 15 senators had defeated the PML-N candidate in the election of Senate chairman. It is likely that most of these 42 votes will go in favour of Alvi, making him unbeatable.
Alvi is a Karachi-based dentist-turned-politician, who stood by prime minister Imran Khan during his political career. While studying at the De’Montmorency College of Dentistry in Lahore, he was an active member of student unions protesting against the then-President Gen. Ayub Khan.

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