The new Pres­i­dent

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

The elec­tion of PTI nom­i­nee DrArifAlvi as the Pres­i­dent of Pak­istan marks the suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the third demo­cratic tran­si­tion in the coun­try. Ear­lier PTI won the speak­er­ship of Na­tional Assem­bly fol­lowed by the elec­tion of Im­ran Khan as Prime Min­is­ter. Now a third elected par­lia­ment and pro­vin­cial as­sem­blies have elected a new pres­i­dent in a lit­tle over a decade since the re­turn of civil­ian gov­ern­ment in Pak­istan. Emerg­ing as a ma­jor­ity party in the re­cent gen­eral elec­tions, PTI and al­lied par­ties have formed gov­ern­ments in the cen­ter, in Pun­jab and Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa while in Balochis­tan PTI is in al­liance with re­gional par­ties.

ArifAlvi sailed through com­fort­ably by win­ning the sup­port of a ma­jor­ity of the mem­bers of Par­lia­ment and pro­vin­cial as­sem­blies, with JUI-F Pres­i­dent MaulanaFa­zlurRehman and Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan of Pak­istan Peo­ples' Party trail­ing way be­hind. Un­der the spe­cial vot­ing for­mula for the of­fice of the Pres­i­dent, there is one mem­ber one vote for the Se­nate and the Na­tional Assem­bly. The same for­mula ap­plies to Balochis­tan Assem­bly where there are 65 mem­bers that ac­count for 65 votes. For other pro­vin­cial as­sem­blies, the vote quota for each assem­bly is equal to Balochis­tan Assem­bly (65). This means that the to­tal num­ber of mem­bers (where it is more than 65) is di­vided in such a man­ner that each assem­bly has 65 votes.

In the run-up to the pres­i­den­tial poll it seemed that it would be a tough con­test, given the large num­ber of op­po­si­tion mem­bers both in the Se­nate and pro­vin­cial as­sem­blies, but the split in the ranks of the op­po­si­tion par­ties went in favour of ArifAlvi. The pres­i­den­tial elec­tion elec­tion serves as a les­son to the op­po­si­tion that un­less it learns to put aside its petty dif­fer­ences, it can­not hope to wield any in­flu­ence for the next five years. Had the now-failed Pak­istan Al­liance man­aged to pitch one can­di­date, there was a chance it could have ma­nip­u­lated the num­bers to grab the last pow­er­ful po­si­tion in the gov­ern­ment.

To the ex­tent that the elec­tion, an im­por­tant demo­cratic mile­stone, has not been marred by al­le­ga­tions of mis­con­duct or rig­ging, the new pres­i­dent, ArifAlvi, makes an aus­pi­cious start. Af­ter the elec­tion, as a good­will ges­ture, Pres­i­dent-elect DrArifAlvi vowed to serve the peo­ple as a whole ir­re­spec­tive of party af­fil­i­a­tion and play his con­sti­tu­tional role in en­sur­ing that ev­ery Pak­istani gets his due share in shel­ter, health, ed­u­ca­tion and em­ploy­ment: "I pledge to serve all the peo­ple of Pak­istan, with­out any dis­crim­i­na­tion, as I am not the Pres­i­dent of any party, but of all the par­ties and of the peo­ple of all the prov­inces".

Need­less to say, as a sym­bol of the fed­er­a­tion, the Pres­i­dent can draw at­ten­tion to is­sues that are ei­ther less prom­i­nent in the na­tional dis­course or ig­nored by the po­lit­i­cal class. At all times, the pres­i­dent has to re­main above the po­lit­i­cal fray, and a ju­di­cious use of the pres­i­den­tial plat­form can help high­light causes that truly bind the na­tion.

The pres­i­den­tial poll com­pletes a full round of elec­tions to the pro­vin­cial as­sem­blies, the Na­tional Assem­bly, the Se­nate and the pres­i­dency dur­ing the cur­rent year. The PTI is now firmly in­stalled in three prov­inces and at the cen­tre and fpr quick re­sults will need to change from cam­paign mode to ef­fec­tive gov­er­nance. Prime Min­is­ter Im­ran Khan has sketched an am­bi­tious do­mes­tic re­forms agenda, but so far few strate­gies and road maps have been revealed. Cer­tainly, much will de­pend on how the gov­ern­ment goes about im­ple­ment­ing its man­i­festo prom­ises. A quick roll­out of a re­form agenda will give the PTI gov­ern­ments at the cen­tre and in the prov­inces enough time to as­sess whether the re­sults are sat­is­fac­tory and make changes be­fore elec­toral con­sid­er­a­tions once again come into play a few years down the road.

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