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Dr Arif Alvi is all smiles as he arrives at Parliament House for the election. —AFP
Dr Arif Alvi is all smiles as he arrives at Parliament House for the election. —AFP

• Elected country’s 13th president amid opposition disarray
• Receives 44 more electoral votes than collective haul of Aitzaz, Fazl
• Loses in home province

ISLAMABAD: In an electoral exercise without much suspense, Dr Arif Alvi of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) was elected 13th president of Pakistan on Tuesday for a five-year term defeating two opponents from a divided opposition.

He will replace President Mamnoon Hussain who is set to complete his term on Sept 9.

Other contestants in the run were the joint opposition’s candidate Maulana Fazlur Rahman and the Pakistan Peoples Party’s Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan.

According to unofficial results announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Arif Alvi secured 353 electoral votes — 44 more than his two rivals could collectively obtain. Maulana Fazl and Mr Ahsan clinched 185 and 124 electoral votes, respectively.

Interestingly, Dr Alvi bagged 212 votes from the Senate and the National Assembly and his rivals also collectively secured exactly the same number of votes from the two houses of parliament. Fazlur Rahman and Aitzaz Ahsan got 131 and 81 votes from parliament, respectively. In all 430 votes were polled by members of parliament, six of which were rejected.

Dr Alvi secured more votes than his opponents in all legislatures, except the provincial assembly of Sindh — the province he belongs to and from where he had contested and won two consecutive elections of the National Assembly.

While Fazlur Rahman and Aitzaz Ahsan could not vote for themselves for not being members of parliament, Dr Alvi cast his vote in the National Assembly. Mr Ahsan watched the election proceedings from the Speaker’s Gallery but Fazlur Rahman was conspicuous by his absence.

The PPP leader secured six more votes than his party’s strength in parliament but Fazlur Rahman clinched 12 votes less than the strength of the joint opposition in parliament, minus the PPP.

In his interaction with the media, Dr Arif Alvi said he would not like to be an “inactive and silent president.”

“The party [PTI] has not sent me for hibernation”, he claimed.

In an echo of the PPP slogan of ‘roti, kapra aur makan’ he hoped that the “fortunes of the poor will take a turn for the better”, and that they would get “food, shelter and clothing” during his term.

“I am grateful to God that the PTI-nominated candidate has been successful in the presidential race today,” Mr Alvi said in his victory speech. “I am also thankful to Imran Khan for nominating me for such a big responsibility.”

PRIME Minister Imran Khan (left), PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif (top right) and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari cast their votes in the presidential election on Tuesday.—White Star
PRIME Minister Imran Khan (left), PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif (top right) and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari cast their votes in the presidential election on Tuesday.—White Star

Mr Alvi said, “From today I am not just a president that was nominated by the PTI but I am the president of the entire nation and all parties. Each party has an equal right on me,” he added.

The president-elect thanked all those who voted for him in the secret ballot.

He promised to play a “meaningful” role in addressing key issues facing the country, saying “provision of justice and better health services and addressing the issues of unemployment and out of school children would be my top priorities”.

The electoral college for the election of the president comprises the two houses of the parliament and the four provincial assemblies.

The total number of seats in the electoral college comes to 1,174, of which 52 seats are either vacant or results of elections on them have been withheld. Out of the remaining 1,122 eligible voters, as many as 1,110 exercised their right to vote. Of these votes, 27 were rejected by the presiding officers, bringing the total number of valid polled votes to 1,083.

“On the basis of total votes cast in favour of each candidates, the result has been determined in the light of the provisions of paragraph 18 of the Second Schedule of the Constitution, according to which Arifur Rahman Alvi has secured 353 votes, whereas Fazlur Rahman has secured 185 votes and Aitzaz Ahsan has secured 124,” a statement issued by the ECP on behalf of Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza, the returning officer for the presidential polls, reads.

The commission said the official result of the count would be prepared and sent to the government on Wednesday (today) after receipt of original record from the presiding officers.

In his message of felicitation to the newly elected president, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari expressed the hope that, rising above partisan politics, Mr Alvi would act as the head of state and (a) symbol of the federation in accordance with the letter and spirit of the constitution.

In a statement, the PPP leader alleged that as leaders of their party -- PTI -- both Imran Khan and Arif Alvi had “undermined the parliament and civilian state institutions” and called upon them to publicly distance themselves from past actions that de-legitimised the parliament.

As a first step in legitimising the parliament, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said, a parliamentary committee to investigate issues of severe discrepancies in the 2018 elections should be set up without further delay.

In his felicitation message, former president Asif Ali Zardari said strengthening democracy should be priority of all. He said the office of the president represented all the federating units and stressed the need for adopting democratic norms in politics.

An abnormally high number of rejected votes in Punjab Assembly gave credence to the reports suggesting a silent revolt within the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz against naming Fazlur Rahman as candidate for office of the president. Eighteen votes polled in the house were rejected.

In the Balochistan Assembly, 45 votes were polled to Dr Arif Alvi, while Maulana Fazl Rahman bagged the rest of 45 votes. Aitzaz Ahsan could not get a single vote from the province.

Dr Alvi secured 78 out of total 111 polled votes in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.

Maulana Fazlur and Aitzaz Ahsan obtained 26 and five votes, respectively. Total 111 MPAs cast their votes while an independent member from Kohat, Amjad Afridi, remained absent.

Mr Afridi, who had been expelled from the PTI, had supported the opposition candidate in the election of leader of the house, last month

Two votes were declared invalid.

Polling was conducted in the assembly hall which was declared a polling station for the presidential election. Lawmakers were not allowed to take their cell phones inside the polling station. Extensive security arrangements were made in and outside the assembly building.

MPAs of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, Awami National Party and PML-N gave vote to Maulana Rehman.

Our Peshawar Bureau also contributed to the report

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2018