Yet another unusual gathering at President House

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In the wake of a surprising meeting at the President’s House that had sparked speculation regarding the announcement of election dates, another “unconventional” gathering has occurred, featuring President Arif Alvi and former information minister Muhammad Ali Durrani. This meeting took place on the eve of President Alvi’s completion of his constitutional term on September 8 (today).

Muhammad Ali Durrani, a leader of the Pakistan Muslim League Functional (PML-F) and former information minister during the era of the late military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, last made headlines in 2021 when he proposed the initiation of a “grand dialogue” among stakeholders. In 2020, Durrani also met Shehbaz Sharif, the then-leader of the opposition, in Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government’s tenure to convey an “important message.”

A day earlier, media reported that the former information minister had visited President Alvi at his official residence. However, no official statement regarding the meeting was issued.

The meeting between Alvi and Durrani has raised eyebrows among political analysts, as Durrani had been relatively inactive in politics for an extended period and is believed to have played a significant role in facilitating this discreet meeting.

This development comes shortly after a high-profile gathering on the fourth floor of Aiwan-e-Sadr (Presidency), where the president’s office is located. During that meeting, access to the fourth floor of Aiwan-e-Sadr was restricted, and even the staff was not allowed entry, according to reports.

The President House did not release any statements about the meeting involving these “three elders.” However, given the current situation in the country, speculation has run rampant on social media.

According to some speculations, the president might announce the date of the general election within the next 72 hours. President Alvi had previously written to the chief election commissioner requesting a meeting to determine the election date. Nevertheless, the CEC declined the meeting, citing Article 57 of the Election Act 2017, which grants the commission the authority to set the election date. The Ministry of Law echoed this response to the president’s request for advice.

There have been suggestions that the president might announce the election date using the powers vested in him under Article 58 of the Constitution, and the meeting could be significant in that context.

Another aspect linked to this meeting could be the amendments to the Army Act and the Official Secrets Act. President Alvi had previously tweeted that he had not signed and ratified these bills, which later became law.

Some also believe that the meeting could be related to the conclusion of the president’s term, which is set to end on September 8 (today).