As the five-year term of President Asif Ali Zardari expires in the next few weeks, the government has asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to announce the presidential election schedule so that the mandatory attendance of lawmakers could be ensured on the specific dates.
President Zardari’s tenure is expiring on September 9 and a presidential election schedule needs to be announced 30 days prior to that date. According to the ECP, the chief election commissioner will be the returning officer for presidential election.
President Zardari is the first elected president of Pakistan who will complete his constitutional tenure. Besides that of the president, two other key offices will fall vacant this year – of chief of army staff and of chief justice of Pakistan.
President Zardari, who was also co-chairperson of Pakistan Peoples Party till recently, plans to restart active politics after September. Constitutionally, the office of president is a symbol of the federation. Hence, the president has to be apolitical and non-partisan.
President Zardari stepped down as PPP co-chairperson before the 2013 general elections in light of a judgment passed by the Lahore High Court.
This year, the new government has to pick out a suitable replacement for President Zardari. It will also have to find a replacement for army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, whose three-year extension in service expires in October.
Analysts believe this time the PML-N government will not repeat the past mistakes and will follow merit in the appointment of a new army chief.
Gen Pervez Musharraf was cherry-picked by the PML-N back in 1998. He, however, overthrew the PML-N government in a military coup. Similarly, Gen Ziaul Haq was introduced by then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The same Zia imposed martial law and led ZAB to the gallows.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s tenure will expire in November this year. As per Al-Jihad Trust case, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court will become new chief justice of the country. A soft spoken Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani is the senior-most judge after Justice Chaudhry. Justice Jilani will be chief justice of Pakistan for only six months as he’ll attain the age of superannuation.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2013.