Pakistan’s new president to be elected on March 9; Zardari frontrunner

Zardari has previously served as the president from September 2008 to 2013.

Islamabad: Pakistan’s election commission on Friday announced that the polling for the presidential election will take place on March 9, with former president Asif Ali Zardari almost certain to bag the top constitutional post again after nearly 11 years.

In a notice, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said that the presidential election would be held on March 9 at the National Assembly and all the provincial assemblies from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Geo News reported.

According to the schedule issued by the top electoral body, candidates for the office can submit nomination papers by Saturday before noon with the presiding officers in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta.

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The scrutiny of the papers by the returning officers will be done on March 4, the ECP said, adding that the candidature can be withdrawn the next day.

The commission will publish the list of validly nominated candidates on the same day, and March 6 has been fixed as the date for retirement, the report said.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari has been nominated for the top office by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shehbaz Sharif-led six-party ruling alliance.

The coalition includes the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P), among other parties.

The PPP’s 68-year-old Asif Ali Zardari was announced as the consensus candidate for the country’s top constitutional office after the PML-N and the PPP decided to form the coalition when neither of the two parties managed to secure a clear majority in the February 8 polls.

Zardari has previously served as the president from September 2008 to 2013.

Former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party-backed independents won majority seats at the 266-member National Assembly in the February 8 general election.

Khan’s party has rejected the attempts by the PML-N and the PPP to form a coalition government, warning that robbing its public endorsement by the “mandate thieves” will result in the worst political instability.

Independent candidates – a majority backed by the PTI party — won 93 National Assembly seats.

The PML-N won 75 seats, while the PPP came third with 54 seats. The MQM-P has 17 seats. The coalition is expected to win major support from the provinces of Punjab and Sindh where PML-N and the PPP have formed their governments.

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