ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced on Tuesday that presidential elections to replace President Asif Ali Zardari would be held on August 6 and result would be announced on August 7.
According to a notification, the ECP has fixed programme for receipt of nomination papers (to be filed at different places), scrutiny of nomination papers, withdrawal of candidature, publication of the list of validly nominated candidates and about the polling day and the places of polling.
According to the schedule, candidates would be allowed to file nomination papers with presiding officers in Islamabad and with each of the presiding officers in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta up to 12 noon on July 24.
Scrutiny of nomination papers by the returning officer in Islamabad will be initiated on July 26. Withdrawal of candidature before the returning officer in Islamabad will be possible by 12 noon on July 29 and the list of validly nominated candidates will be published at 1pm on July 29.
Finally, polling for election of president of Pakistan would be held on August 6 from 10am to 3pm, simultaneously at Parliament House, Islamabad and provincial assemblies of all the four provinces.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has also appointed presiding officers for conduct of the elections.
Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi would be presiding over for the Senate and National Assembly of Pakistan.
Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Atta Bandial would be presiding officer for the Punjab Assembly; Sindh High Court Chief Justice Mushir Alam for the Sindh Assembly; Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faiz Essa would be presiding officer for the Balochistan Assembly.
"Each of the presiding officers named above shall likewise preside over the meeting of the Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament) in Parliament House, Islamabad, and provincial assembly of the concerned province, on the time, date and place fixed for the poll, being held for the said election," the ECP said in the notification.
None of the main parties – the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN), Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) or Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – have so far announced their candidates for the election.
The PMLN won a majority in May's parliamentary election and their nominee is expected to win the presidential poll, voted on by members of the National Assembly, Senate and provincial assemblies.
The party on Tuesday started consultations on its presidential candidate with focus on candidates from Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) for the office of president. According to sources, focus of the party is mainly on candidates from Sindh and KP because the party wants to give this office to smaller provinces after Nawaz Shairf was elected prime minister from Punjab.
Zardari, who came to power in 2008 on a wave of public support after the assassination of his wife Benazir Bhutto, had already announced his intention not to stand again, and given the PMLN's power he stood little chance of re-election in any case.
Following constitutional amendments brought in by the last PPP government, the president has a largely symbolic role with little real power, though Zardari was often seen as a sharp political operator behind the scenes.
The ECP has implemented Article 41 of the constitution for the first time in Pakistan which states that the process of electing a president must begin at least two months before the end of the president's term.
PML-N starts consultations on presidential candidates
The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Tuesday started consultations on its presidential candidate with focus on candidates from Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) for the office of president.
The Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) announcement that elections for president would be held on August 6 has triggered consultations in the PML-N, sources in the party told our sources.
According to sources, focus of the party is mainly on candidates from Sindh and KP because the party wants to give this office to smaller provinces after Nawaz Shairf was elected prime minister from Punjab.
The names of Sartaj Aziz, adviser to prime minister on national security, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, secretary general of PML-N and Mehtab Khan Abbasi, a stalwart of the party, are being considered for this office from KP. Syed Ghaus Ali Shah, Sardar Mumtaz Bhutto and Justice (r) Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui are being considered from Sindh.
Sources said that the party has not yet found any big name from Balochistan from its own ranks to consider it for the president's office.
However, a candidate who has the broader support in Balochistan cannot be ruled out for the presidential election, sources added. They said that Sartaj Azia and Ghaus Ali Shah are favourites candidates for the elections.
Sources said that some party leaders wanted Mumtaz Bhutto to be its presidential candidate in order to give tough time to the PPP in Sindh where it still holds the sway.
However, a major part of the party does not want any confrontation with PPP at a time when the country is already facing enormous issues.
"The PPP will also react strongly to Mumtaz Bhutto's nomination for the office of president and it will withdraw its support for the government on various issues on which government is bound constitutionally to consult the opposition party," sources said.
They said that decision to finalise a candidate for the presidential elections could stretch to the last day of filing of nomination papers on July 24.
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Board of PML-N held a discussion on party candidates for upcoming by-elections of the National and provincial assemblies.
The board met in Islamabad with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the chair. The meeting was attended by Shahbaz Sharif, Raja Ashfaq Sarwar, Rana Tanveer Hussain, Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Pervaiz Rashid, Ahsan Iqbal, Khwaja Saad Rafiq, Khwaja Muhammad Asif, Anusha Rahman Khan, Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq and Rana Sanaullah Khan.