ISLAMABAD: Voting has begun to elect the 13th president of the country today in a three-way contest as the ruling party candidate, Dr Arif Alvi, is assured an easy win owing to failure of the opposition parties to field a joint candidate.
The polling began at 10:00 am and will continue without break till 4:00pm. Members of the both house of Parliament and four provincial assemblies are casting their votes in the election.
As many as 1,121 legislators will cast their votes in the election to the top constitutional office of president.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is most likely to take the Presidency as it has the highest number of party votes in the electoral college for the election.
The ruling party has pitched Dr Arif Alvi who faces Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, fielded by the opposition parties led by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), and the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) presidential candidate Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan.
The PTI leads the electoral college for the election with 361 votes while the strength of the joint opposition, including the PPP and PML-N, stands at 326.
Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Raza is discharging his responsibilities as the returning officer for the presidential election, whereas the chief justices of all the four provinces have been appointed as presiding officers.
Strict security arrangements have been put in place at the National Assembly, the four provincial assemblies and the Senate for the occasion.
How the President of Pakistan is elected?
The president of Pakistan is elected in a secret ballot by the provincial and national assemblies. There are total 706 assembly members who will elect the president.
Composition of electoral college:
All provincial assemblies are allotted equal 65 votes in the Electoral College. This mean that the each member of the Punjab Assembly has 65/370 = 0.176 vote, each member of the Sindh Assembly has 65/168 = 0.387 vote, each member of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly has 65/124 = 0.524 vote and each member of the Balochistan Assembly has 65/65 = 1 vote.
As per the National Assembly stats, the composition of major political bodies in National assembly is as follows: PTI’s total National assembly seats are 151, PML-N has 81 while PPP has 54 seats. Likewise the MMA has 15 seats, MQM 7, Balochistan Awami Party 5, Balochistan National Party 4, GDA 3, PML 3, and independent candidates’ seats are 4.
The political composition of major political parties in the Senate includes PML-N’s 33 seats, PPP has 20 whereas PTI has 12. Previously the PTI had no representation in the Senate. The party with a few number of seats includes the MQM with 5 seats, JUI-F 4 seats, PKMAP has 3 seats, JI has 2 seats, ANP, PML-F and BNP one seat each.
According to article 41(3) Chief Election Commissioner has to conduct elections to the office of the President in a special session of Parliament and all the provincial assemblies in accordance with the provisions of Second Schedule to the Constitution. The President is elected for a term of 5 years.
The President is a ceremonial post, head of state, and merely a figurehead with the executive powers granted to Prime Minister, by the Constitution. The Constitution states that a presidential candidate must be a Muslim man or woman, not less than 45 years of age, and a Member of the National Assembly can contest the Presidential election.
The constitution further states that election to the office of President will not be held earlier than sixty days and not later than thirty days before the expiration of the term of the President in office.