Zardari to Run for President as ECP Sets March 9 as Election Date

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced that the presidential election will be held on March 9, 2024, according to sources in the commission.

The ECP is expected to issue the official schedule for the election today, the sources said.

The presidential election will take place before the Senate election, which is due in March as well, after the formation of new governments at the centre and in the provinces following the general election on February 8.

The sources said that former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari will be the joint candidate of the opposition alliance, which includes the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and other parties.

The opposition parties have agreed to nominate Zardari as their consensus candidate for the highest office of the country, the sources said.

Zardari, who served as the president from 2008 to 2013, is expected to face a tough challenge from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its allies, who have not yet announced their candidate.

The PTI, which emerged as the largest party in the National Assembly with 93 seats, has been struggling to form a stable government at the centre and in the provinces, as it lacks a clear majority and faces defections from some of its independent allies.

The PTI’s leader and former prime minister Imran Khan, who was ousted by a no-confidence motion in 2022 and later convicted of corruption, is barred from holding any public office for five years.

The president of Pakistan is elected indirectly by an electoral college, which consists of the members of the Senate, the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies.

Each member of the Senate and the National Assembly has one vote, while the votes of the provincial assembly members are weighted according to the size of their respective provinces.

Each provincial assembly has 65 votes, which is equal to the number of members in the Balochistan Assembly, the smallest of the four assemblies.

The votes of the members of the other provincial assemblies are adjusted proportionally to match the 65 votes.

The presidential candidate who secures the highest number of votes in the electoral college is declared the winner.

The current president, Dr Arif Alvi, who belongs to the PTI, will continue to hold office until his successor is sworn in.

Alvi’s term expired on September 9, 2023, but he remains in office as per the constitutional provision that allows him to do so until the next president takes charge.

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