ISLAMABAD - The country’s political panorama has been witnessing a plethora of upheavals for the last six months and this fast changing scenario is seemingly creating a window of opportunity for Dr.Arif Alvi to continue as President even after the culmination of his tenure.
The country’s 13th President Dr. Arif Alvi was sworn in on September 9, 2018 and his tenure will end next month [September 8], but he constitutionally may continue as head of state until a new president is elected by the electoral college in the country. Currently, there is no electoral college in the country to elect a new president in his place, which constitutionally allows him to stay as President of the country till the new President assumes the charge.
Though Dr.Arif Alvi has so far not hinted to continue as a head of state of the country till a new President elected by the electoral college, yet it is being assumed that he might continue to enjoy more five to six months as a President of the country. A seasoned legal and constitutional expert, Aitazaz Ahsan, talking to this newspaper, confirmed that President Arif Alvi can legally and constitutionally remain President of the country.
Citing article-44 of the constitution, the country’s top legal brain remarked that the president shall continue to hold office even after his term expires until a new president is elected and assumes office. About the choice of Dr.Arif Alvi to continue as head of state, Ahsan said Arif Alvi should remain President till the new President assumed his charge. “He [Arif Alvi] is a good President, in my views he should continue and no one can constitutionally ask him to leave the office,” he remarked.
It may be mentioned here that the electoral college comprising the Senate, the National Assembly and all the provincial assemblies. While all the provincial assemblies and National Assembly have already been dissolved. Since there are no assemblies and no electoral college to elect a new president in his place, so he[President Arif Alvi] can extend his tenure.
According to country constitution, “Election to the office of President shall be held not earlier than sixty days and not later than thirty days before the expiration of the term of the President in office: Provided that, if the election cannot be held within the period aforesaid because the National Assembly is dissolved, it shall be held within thirty days of the general election to the Assembly.”
Other legal and constitutional expert former Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan [ECP] Kanwar Dilshad was also reportedly of the opinion that President Arif Alvi can stay in office until the new president assumes charge. He also quoted article-44 (1) of the Constitution that constitutionally support the President to hold office even after the end of his tenure.
He further said that the election of the new President is only possible after the completion of the electoral college comprising the Senate, the National Assembly and all the provincial assemblies. It seems Arif Alvi might continue as President of the country by enjoying a legal and constitutional cover. In a new development, the ECP had made it clear that the general elections in the country will not be possible in the stipulated limit of three months. The top election body has reached a conclusion to conduct the fresh delimitation of the constituencies which is not possible within the stipulated time frame of 90 days.
The article-224 of the Constitution binds the electoral body to conduct general elections within 90 days of the dissolution assemblies. The Section 17 of the Elections Act reads, “The Commission shall delimit constituencies after every census is officially published.” According to the tenure of the Presidents, General Mohammed Ayub Khan (27-10-1958 To 25-03-1969), General Mohammed Yahya Khan (25-03-1969 To 20-12-1971), Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (20-12-1971 To 14-08-1973) ,Mr. Fazal Elahi Chaudhry (14-08-1973 To 16-09-1978), General Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq (16-09-1978 To 17-08-1988), Mr. Ghulam Ishaq Khan (17-08-1988 To 08-07-1993), Mr. Wasim Sajjad (Acting) (18-07-1993 To 14-11-1993), Sardar Farooq Ahmed Leghari (14-11-1993 To 02-12-1997), Mr. Wasim Sajjad (Acting) (02-12-1997 To 01-01-1998), Justice (R) Mohammed Rafiq Tarar (01-01-1998 To 20-06-2001), General Parvez Musharraf (20-06-2001 To 15-10-2007), General (Retd) Parvez Musharraf (29-11-2007 To 18-08-2008), Mohammedmian Soomro (Acting) (18-08-2008 To 09-09-2008), Mr. Asif Ali Zardari (09-09-2008 To 09-09-2013), Mr. Mamnoon Hussain (09-09-2013 To 09-09-2018), and Dr. Arif Alvi assumed charge on 09-09-2018.