Islamabad: While the five-year term of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari is due to end on September 8, a successor will be elected early next month by an electoral college comprising federal and provincial lawmakers.
It is a requirement under Article 41 (4) of the constitution of the country to hold presidential election by August 8, said a member of the Election Commission of Pakistan, retired justice Riaz Kayani.
The commission has to follow the constitution and issue a schedule for presidential election before July 20, a newspaper quoted him as saying.
Article 41 (4) states: “Election to the office of President shall be held not earlier than 60 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of the President in office.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), which commands a comfortable majority in the electoral college made up of National Assembly and four provincial assemblies, is set to determine who will succeed Zardari.
Following the defeat of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the May 11 general election, the incumbent president had told the media he would not seek re-election because of the loss of a parliamentary majority.
Zardari, who simultaneously held the office of co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party until earlier this year, left for Dubai on Friday on a three-week private visit. Media reports said he would also go to London and was expected to return home towards the end of July.
A prominent PPP leader, Makhdoom Amin Fahim has reportedly said the party had not decided about its candidate for the office of president.
He said the PPP would announce a candidate as soon as the schedule of the presidential election was made public.
A daily quoted the president’s spokesman, Senator Farhatullah Babar, as saying Zardari had gone to Dubai to meet his children. From there he is to go to London where one of his daughters is studying.
The spokesman rejected a perception that the president would not return to the country. “Why he will leave his office even one day before the expiry of his five-year term,” he said.
Meanwhile, speculation has started in political and media circles about whether Zardari will stay in the country after his term ends or live abroad due to security concerns.
Zardari’s chief security officer Bilal Shaikh was killed in Karachi this week. In 2008 chief security officer of Bilawal House in Karachi, Khalid Shahenshah was killed and Imran Jang, another security officer of the Bhutto family, was also gunned down in the port city.