Pakistani president's 5-year term set to expire

Pakistani President Arif Alvi’s five-year term is set to expire amid simmering political and economic crises. He is the fourth president to complete a full five-year term in office.

Alvi, who was elected the 13th president of the South Asian country in September 2018 following the election victory of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party led by ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan, will continue to serve until next year’s presidential election.

His overstay is the result of a delay in the holding of general elections, which were originally scheduled for November but are now likely to be held in February.

Alvi dissolved the lower house of parliament, or the National Assembly, on August 9, only three days before the expiry of its five-year term, on the advice of outgoing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, paving the way for the national vote within 90 days.

According to the constitution, if parliament completes its term, elections have to be held within the next 60 days.

If, however, the National Assembly or the provincial assemblies are dissolved even a single day before that, polls must be conducted within the next 90 days.

A week before the expiry of parliament's term, the Council of Common Interests, a constitutional body that comprises the prime minister and the chief ministers of all provinces, approved the controversial results of a new nationwide census, making it almost certain that elections will not be held on schedule.

The hasty approval means the country's top electoral body, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), needs at least four additional months to notify new constituencies in the country in accordance with the latest census.

Pakistan's presidential system: Alvi's influence in politics

In Pakistan, a president is not elected through a direct vote but by the members of the upper and lower houses of parliament and the four provincial assemblies.

Currently, only the upper house - the Senate - is functioning, whereas the national and four provincial assemblies stand dysfunctional following the expiry of their respective terms.

Pakistan follows a parliamentary form of government, with the prime minister calling the shots.

The president, who is the country's constitutional head and the commander-in-chief of the three armed forces, practically embodies a symbolic authority over state affairs.

Alvi has served for a five-year stint, and his role was merely that of a factotum during the nearly four-year tenure of Imran Khan.