Home Latest News Asif Ali Zardari Elected President of Pakistan—for a Second Time

Asif Ali Zardari Elected President of Pakistan—for a Second Time

Joint coalition candidate secured presidency with a comfortable majority, securing 411 electoral votes to his rival Mehmood Khan Achakzai’s 181

by Staff Report

File photo. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari was on Saturday elected the 14th President of Pakistan, making history to become the only individual to be elected to the post twice.

Announcing the results of the polls, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said 1,044 voters participated in the process, adding the total strength of the electoral college was 1,185, while 92 seats were presently vacant. Of the submitted votes, it said, nine were declared invalid, leaving total number of valid votes cast at 1,035.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed Sunni Ittehad Council’s candidate Jan Mehmood Achakzai, speaking to media after the polls, claimed it was the first election in the country’s history without any horse-trading. He said the presidential election was generally fair. However, PTI leader Gohar Ali Khan claimed Zardari’s presidential victory would be “undemocratic and illegal.”

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Zardari received 8 votes, while Achakzai secured 41 votes. In Punjab, Zardari secured 43 votes, while Achakzai got 18. In Balochistan, the joint coalition’s candidate received 47 electoral votes, while the PTI-backed SIC’s candidate got zero votes. In Sindh, Zardari got 53 electoral votes and Achakzai got 3, while in the National Assembly and Senate Zardari received 225 votes against Achakzai’s 119.

The elections proceeded smoothly, despite leaders of the PTI and SIC repeatedly claiming the polling was “unconstitutional,” as the Electoral College was incomplete while several reserved seats remained vacant nationwide. However, the difference in votes makes clear the contested reserved seats would have made no difference in the final results.

Ahead of the polls, it was pretty certain Zardari would emerge as the victor. The PPP leader had secured the support of all parties comprising the ruling coalition—the PMLN, IPP, BAP, PMLQ, MQMP—giving him a comfortable margin of victory against Achakzai, who only had the support of the SIC and other minority parties.

Both the Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) had earlier announced they would not vote in the presidential elections.

A day earlier, Zardari’s opponent Achakzai had urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to delay the presidential election, arguing the Electoral College was incomplete as the matter of several reserved seats was still pending. He added that until the seats were filled, the presidential polls would be “illegal, unlawful and against the spirit of the Constitution.” Ahead of the polls, the Peshawar High Court barred oath-taking of lawmakers appointed on reserved seats for women and minorities until March 15; while the Sindh High Court similarly said the votes of anyone appointed on contested seats would not be counted.

“In exercise of powers conferred upon it [commission] under Articles 218(3) and 41 of the Constitution read with Second Schedule and further read with Presidential Election Rules, 1988, decline to delay the Election to the office of the President and reject the application of the petitioner,” read an order issued by the ECP in response to Achakzai’s plea.

“The Election to the office of the President is a Constitutional Imperative in terms of Article 41 of the Constitution and cannot be delayed beyond 30 days. The Electoral College cannot be deemed to be in complete for want of vacancy (ies) because recently 22 MNA(s)/MPA(s) have vacated the seats whereby they were elected from more than one seat,” it said. “Had it been the intention of the framers of the Constitution that the Electoral College(s) shall be incomplete for want of vacancies for election to the Office of the President, it would have been provided expressly in the Constitution,” it continued, adding that so long as Parliament and provincial assemblies were operational, an Electoral College was deemed to be complete.

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