The election for the Pakistan President will be held on August 6, over a month earlier than expected, in a move seen as an attempt to hasten the exit of incumbent Asif Ali Zardari.

“The schedule has been approved by Chief Election Commissioner Fakhrudin G Ibrahim in a special meeting,” said the Election Commission on Tuesday. Mr. Zardari, on a private visit to Dubai and London, is set to complete his five-year term on September 8.

He has announced that he will not run for a second term.

The announcement came as a surprise to observers as the electoral college is incomplete. By-elections for 42 seats in the national and provincial assemblies will be held on August 22.

The four provincial assemblies and the two Houses of Parliament form the electoral college for the presidential poll and voting is held in the assemblies.

According to the current strength of political parties in the national and provincial assemblies, the nominee of the ruling PML-N of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will easily win the election.

Khurshid Shah, a senior leader of Mr. Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party, criticised the decision to hold the election before the President completes his term.