ISLAMABAD: Dr. Arif Alvi has made history by becoming the fourth democratically elected president in Pakistan to successfully complete a full five-year term, as his tenure officially concludes today (Friday).
The three presidents who achieved this milestone before Dr. Alvi were Chaudhary Fazal Elahi (the fifth president, serving from 1973 to 1978), Asif Ali Zardari (the eleventh president, in office from 2008 to 2013), and Mamnoon Hussain (the twelfth president, holding the position from 2013 to 2018). Consequently, Dr. Alvi now joins this exclusive group and is also the third consecutive president to enjoy a complete term.
Moreover, Dr. Alvi’s term might extend indefinitely due to the absence of an electoral college required to select the president. If this occurs, he will join a select few in the country’s history to have an extended term. It’s worth noting that Chaudhry Elahi had an additional month in office as a figurehead before Ziaul Haq assumed the presidency on September 16, 1978.
According to Article 44(1) of the Constitution, the president serves a term of five years from the date they assume office, but they continue to hold the position until a successor is chosen.
Given the uncertainty surrounding general elections, with the Election Commission planning for a potential late January timeline, the duration of Dr. Alvi’s continued tenure remains uncertain.
Throughout his term, Dr. Arif Alvi has been at the center of several controversies, facing accusations of manipulating the Constitution and turning the Presidency into an “ordinance factory” by enacting 77 ordinances.
Critics have also pointed out alleged improper intentions behind references sent against judges of the superior judiciary and legally flawed appointments in autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies, which were subsequently invalidated by courts.
Dr. Alvi faced criticism after dissolving the National Assembly upon the advice of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, following the prorogation of a crucial session by the then deputy speaker, Qasim Suri, without allowing a vote on a no-confidence motion against Mr. Khan. However, a unanimous Supreme Court decision later declared Dr. Alvi’s decision to dissolve the National Assembly “contrary to the Constitution and the law and of no legal effect.”
In June 2020, the Supreme Court also rejected the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa, deeming it “invalid.”
President Alvi stirred controversy again in February this year when he unilaterally announced election dates for Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, bypassing the Election Commission and setting April 9 as the election date.
His most recent controversy arose when Dr. Alvi claimed that he had not signed two key bills granting more powers to the Army and intelligence agencies. However, these bills became law despite his objections.
Dr. Alvi’s accusations against his own staff for undermining his authority have drawn criticism, with some suggesting that he should resign if he cannot maintain control over his own team.