President Alvi likely to stay in office even after completing five-year tenure

Article 44 says president cannot be shown the door despite completion of his term in absence of assemblies

Sabir Shah
Web Desk
President Dr Arif Alvi is pictured in this undated photo. — APP/File
President Dr Arif Alvi is pictured in this undated photo. — APP/File 

  • Alvi will become fourth head of state to complete his full term.
  • President to perform duties till appointment of new one. 
  • Article 44 says the president cannot be asked to leave.

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi's five-year tenure will officially end on Friday (today) or after midnight; however, the renowned dentist-turned-politician is likely to stay in the office even after the expiration of his stipulated Constitutional term. 

President Alvi will become the fourth head of state to complete his full term. The previous three presidents who completed their five-year terms were the fifth president Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry (1973 to 1978), the 11th president Asif Ali Zardari ( 2008 to 2013) and the 12th president Mamnoon Hussain (2013 to 2018). 

In consultative meetings last week, the president had agreed to perform his duties until the appointment of the new one. 

Article 44 of the Constitution, of course, explicitly states that in the absence of the National and provincial assemblies, the president cannot be shown the door despite completion of his term, unless he opts to leave the prestigious office voluntarily or goes home of his own accord.

So, with just hours to go before Alvi’s stint in the Presidency culminates, speculations are rife given Pakistan's unenviable history when it comes to giving farewells to its heads of state, which includes formidable army generals as well.

7 presidents who had to relinquish charge abruptly

Research shows that of the 13 Pakistani presidents to date, at least seven had to relinquish the charge unceremoniously and abruptly, while one (General Ziaul Haq) had perished in a plane accident in August 1988 while he was still in office.

The presidents who visibly resigned against their will and owing to circumstances beyond their control include the likes of Iskander Mirza, General Ayub Khan, General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Farooq Leghari, Rafiq Tarar and General Pervez Musharraf.

Three of these presidents, all of whom were army generals, had witnessed terrible times after leaving the presidency.

While General Musharraf and Major General Mirza died in exile, General Yahya Khan was placed under house arrest in Rawalpindi from 1971 to 1979.

Yahya was released from martial law custody just months before his demise in 1980 and was also stripped of his service honours by the Government of Pakistan due to the East Pakistan tragedy.

Yahya was the commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Army when he had to hang his boots as head of the armed forces after the East Pakistan debacle, besides having to leave charge as the country’s President on December 20, 1971.

Remember, Mirza was promoted to the two-star rank, having allegedly skipped the one-star promotion as Brigadier and upgraded his rank to Major General, courtesy of the promotion papers reportedly approved by then-prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan in 1950.

General Ayub Khan resigned as the Pakistan Army’s commander-in-chief on October 27, 1958, to assume charge as the country’s second president on the same day. He had appointed General Musa Khan to replace him as commander-in-chief.

This had happened just 20 days after the first Pakistani president, had proclaimed martial law against the will and wishes of then premier Feroze Khan Noon.

But then there was a breakdown of civil-military relations and Gen Ayub went on to seize the presidency in a military coup, the first in the country’s history.

Historic accounts, annals of history, numerous books and media archives reveal that military units were ordered by Gen Ayub to enter the presidency on midnight of 26–27 October 1958, and Mirza was made to board a plane, only to be exiled to England, where he ran a restaurant that offered Pakistani cuisine. He died of a heart attack on November 13, 1969, his 70th birthday.

And the most heart-wrenching part of the story was that Mirza was denied a burial in Pakistan by his successors at the helm of affairs.

It is imperative to note that just months before Mirza’s death, Gen Ayub had to resign as president due to the countrywide uprising against him.

Coming to General Musharraf, he had finally quit as Pakistan Army chief on November 28, 2007, trading the post for a second five-year term as president. He remained in office from June 20, 2001 to August 18, 2008.

Haunted by controversies like the Lal Masjid siege, the ongoing terrorism and the suspension of former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Musharraf finally succumbed to the local and international pressures mounted by the lawyers’ fraternity and his civilian rivals, the late Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.

Though Benazir was assassinated during his tenure as president, her spouse Asif Ali Zardari was adamant about sending Musharraf packing after assuming power in the 2008 polls. 

Faced with impeachment, Musharraf finally resigned on August 18, 2008, and went abroad.

On March 24, 2013, after a four-year self-imposed exile, he returned to Pakistan, a few months before the commencement of Sharif’s reign. Courts did not allow him to contest in the 2013 polls. He was dragged into courts by adversaries in echelons of power and barely averted the embarrassment of being hand-cuffed and imprisoned on at least one occasion.

On April 18, 2013, the court ordered his arrest but he somehow managed to escape to his Islamabad farmhouse. The following day, he was placed under house arrest but was later transferred to police headquarters.

After having faced an extremely tough time on a land where he once called shots, he was allowed to travel abroad in March 2016. He subsequently lived in Dubai in self-imposed exile.

On December 17, 2019, a special court declared him a traitor and sentenced him in absentia to death for abrogating and suspending the Constitution. This verdict was later annulled by the Lahore High Court. On February 5, 2023, Musharraf died at age 79 in Dubai. His body was returned to Karachi and was laid to rest with military honours in an army graveyard.