LAHORE: President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday called upon political parties to refrain from bringing the Pakistan Army into political discourse, saying the military was the guarantor of national security and “it should not be made controversial”.

The president’s statement comes days after PTI leader Shahbaz Gill was arrested by the Islamabad police on charges of sedition and inciting the public against the state institutions, following his controversial remarks about the armed forces on a news channel.

Speaking to the media at the Governor House, Dr Alvi said that there was a need to initiate a “consultative process” to bring all the important stakeholders of the country to a negotiation table, reports Dawn.com.

“However, the constitutional role of a president does not allow him to officially reach out to the stakeholders.”

Stresses need to initiate a consultative process, says army should not be dragged into politics

Dr Alvi stated that it was the primary responsibility of the government, opposition, and all the other relevant institutions to deliberate upon defusing the rising polarisation in the country.

He said political parties and stakeholders needed to sit together and chalk out a way forward, especially with regard to holding free and fair elections and developing a charter of economy that could help ease out the current political and economic situation.

“Everyone will have to think about the situation we are currently embroiled into.”

The president also offered to mediate between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and PTI Chairman Imran Khan “for the sake of the country”.

“It will be my endeavour to reduce tensions between the two leaders and make the environment feasible for early elections.”

Dr Alvi stressed that a conflict between the federal government and provinces was unfavourable for the country, stressing that it should be settled.

He said he had been “reminding all the stakeholders that the things are not right”.

The president went on to say that he had also been informing Imran about the management issues in Pakistan, adding that “he had his own viewpoint over the matter.”

He also stressed that stakeholders within Pakistan should only be involved in hammering out issues confronting the country without any involvement of any foreign persons or a country.

During the talk, the president insisted that he had a very cordial relationship with the incumbent government, saying he accorded timely approval to all summaries sent by PM Shehbaz, except for four which were delayed.

He also revealed that he held more discussions with the incumbent prime minister as compared to Imran.

Separately, the president highlighted corruption as “a major reason for the backwardness of any country”.

“One of the best ways to counter corruption is to make all financial transactions through formal banking channels, especially when it comes to political parties while receiving and managing donations,” he suggested.

Dr Alvi opined that 90 per cent of social media was “good” as “it provides huge chunk of information and we should learn to deal with the remaining 10pc by filtering out fake news and hearsay”.

EVM: The president said he was the main proponent of electronic voting machines since long even during the governments of the PPP and the PML-N.

“It was me who convinced the PTI for the use of technology during elections. The EVM provides extremely simple solutions to conduct free and fair elections.”

He emphasised the need for consensus on the use of the technology during the election process which, he said, would strengthen the democratic process in the country.

While commenting on the government talks with the proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, he said he was of the opinion that any such negotiations should be mandated by the parliament and they ought to be pursued in confidence to reach some amicable outcome.

“The result should be reported back to the parliament before making them public,” he said.

Dr Alvi said he respected all institutions being the head of the state.

He said he also agreed with the remarks of the chief justice when he had said there should be a standard for appointment of judges in the judiciary.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2022

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