Textile tycoon and PML-N loyalist Mamnoon Hussain is Pakistan’s twelfth president. His election, after voting in the Senate, National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies on July 30 is, of course, no surprise. According to the break-up of votes at the time of writing this editorial, Mamnoon Hussain had received 277 votes from the National Assembly; 64 from the Sindh Assembly; 41 from the K-P Assembly and 55 from the Balochistan Assembly, while the results of the Senate and the Punjab Assembly were not as yet known. His only opponent, Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed of the PTI, meanwhile, got 34 votes from the NA, five from the Sindh Assembly; 59 from the K-P Assembly and one from the Balochistan Assembly. The PTI, after some internal debate, had decided to put up a candidate only to avoid leaving an ‘open playing field’. The PPP, of course, boycotted after the Supreme Court brought the polling day forward to July 30, from the previous date set for August 6.
The controversy could quite easily have been avoided. There could never have been any doubt that Mamnoon Hussain would be the next president of Pakistan and creating a more amicable environment for this, by moving the date to one approved by all parties, would have done no harm at all. Debate at this point, as to the wisdom or otherwise of the decision by the PPP and its allies, seems somewhat pointless.
Mr Hussain, born in Agra in 1940, has of course been rewarded for his long-standing loyalty to the PML-N. He had briefly served as the governor of Sindh before the 1999 military coup. We will be watching over the coming months what Mr Hussain brings to the highest office in the land. Following the Eighteenth Amendment, the president holds essentially only symbolic power. Mr Hussain, who has made a few comments regarding policy, will need to realise this and help take his office towards a point where it can stand above day-to-day matters, and act in a manner that allows our state to gain the dignity and status that it so badly needs in the international community. This should be Mr Hussain’s main challenge as he moves into the presidency and attempts to wipe it clean of the stains accrued over the last many years.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2013.
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