ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MNA Arif ur Rehman Alvi is set to have a smooth sailing in the presidential election today (Tuesday) as main opposition camp remains divided.

In a three-way contest, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP-P) has fielded Aitzaz Ahsan for the slot while the other opposition parties have nominated JUI-F chief Malauna Fazlur Rahman.

The opposition parties in their meetings failed to field a consensus candidate against the MNA from ruling party (PTI) Arif Alvi. The outgoing President Mamnoon Hussain’s tenure ends on September 8 and he had declined for re-election to a second 5-year term.

The name of Pakistan Peoples Party candidate Aitzaz Ahsan is on the top of the ballot paper, PTI candidate Arif Alvi is on the second position and Jamiat-e-Ulema (F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s name is printed on the third place.

Voting for the election will be held in the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies. The members have been directed to bring their identity cards with them. Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Raza Khan has asked presiding officers to ensure secrecy of ballot.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had completed preparations for the presidential election. Polling stations were set up in all four provincial assemblies in addition to the National Assembly. The ballot papers and other related equipment have also been shifted to the polling stations.

Members of the National and provincial assemblies will not be allowed to carry their phones while casting their votes.

The political pundits viewed that the division in the ranks of opposition would prove beneficial for the ruling PTI which would be able to get its candidate elected quite easily.

The numerical strength for presidential election suggests that the PTI has total 251 members in the 706 electoral college. Its tally can go up to 314 with the support of coalition partners.

If the main opposition parties (PPP-P and PML-N), political sources said, had decided to field consensus candidate their tally could have reached to 260 and with the support of smaller parties it could have touched the figure of 321.

The opposition parties’ members, in their media talk, kept claiming to clinch the seat with the support of members from treasury side as they said some members from PTI were ready to vote for them in secret balloting.

The PTI has clear majority in National Assembly, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. The party has also sufficient support from Balochistan from its candidate.

The Balochistan Awami Party, Grand Democratic Alliance, Pakistan Muslim League, Awami Muslim League, Balochistan National Party, BNP-Awami and Jamhoori Watan Party have given nod to support PTI’s candidate.

The opposition parties have majority in the Upper House of parliament.

PTI’s candidate Arif Alvi, who is the frontrunner for the slot of the President, has studied at the De’Montmorency College of Dentistry in Lahore.

He was member of student unions protesting against the then-President Gen Ayub Khan. Later, in 1979, he decided to run for a Sindh Assembly seat in Karachi as a candidate of the Jamaat-e-Islami. He has also served as the president of the Sindh chapter of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Alvi contested the general election in 1997 and 2002 but got elected in 2013 from NA-250. In the last elections, he contested and won from NA-247 (Karachi).

Maulana Fazlur Rehman is the son of Islamic scholar and seasoned politician late Mufti Mehmoodur Rehman. In the 1980s, the JUI split and Fazl founded his own faction of the religious party.

Fazl has been elected to the national assembly six times since 1988. He faced his first electoral defeat in 2018 general elections.

PPP candidate Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan was born on September 27, 1945 in Murree. He completed his initial education at Aitchison College. Ahsan has been a member of the PPP throughout his long political career.