On different legal, constitutional matters, political, legal minds recently differed triggering serious controversies

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi completes his term this weekend but the constitution unambiguously allows him to continue till the election of his successor no matter how long it will take.

On different legal and constitutional matters, the political and legal minds of the country have recently differed triggering serious controversies. The question of Dr Alvi’s continuation beyond his term in the present situation is a settled issue and there is nothing in the constitution which can be interpreted in any manner to force the President to leave upon the completion of his present term.

However, on his own if he opts to leave upon the completion of his term, the constitution provides for his replacement. So far the President has not yet made his intentions public whether he would leave or continue. Alvi’s term is scheduled to end on September 9 as his tenure lasts for a period of five years.

According to Article 44(1) of the Constitution, the President shall hold office for a term of five years from the day he enters upon his office: Provided that the President shall, notwithstanding the expiration of his terms, continue to hold office until his successor enters upon his office. A person holding office as President shall be eligible for re-election to that office, but no person shall hold that office for more than two consecutive terms. According to the Constitution, the President may, by writing under his hand addressed to the Speaker of the National Assembly, resign his office. If the office of President becomes vacant by reason of death, resignation or removal of the President, the Chairman or, if he is unable to perform the functions of the office of President, the Speaker of the National Assembly shall act as President until a President is elected. When the President, by reason of absence from Pakistan or any other cause, is unable to perform his functions, the Chairman or, if he too is absent or unable to perform the functions of the office of President, the Speaker of the National Assembly shall perform the functions of President until the President returns to Pakistan or, as the case may be, resumes his functions.

If Dr Alvi leaves the office on September 9, Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani will act as the President until the new President is elected following the next general elections.

The electoral college for the office of the President consists of members of both houses of Parliament- Senate and National Assembly- and the four provincial assemblies. The constitution allows the election of the President within two months of the expiry of his term but it was not possible for the last PDM government because of an incomplete electoral college.

Not only two of the provincial assemblies- Punjab and KP- were already dissolved but most of the PTI MNAs had also resigned from the National Assembly. If the election of the President cannot be held because of the dissolution of the assemblies, it shall be held within thirty days of the general election. In this scenario the new President will be elected within 30 days of the next elections. Dr Alvi, if he decides to stay, shall continue to enjoy all powers of his office including the power to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority.

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