ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi on Thursday urged politicians to “grab the opportunity” resulting from the military’s planned retreat from politics and work together to strengthen democracy.
The president was speaking at the concluding session of ‘Islamabad Conclave-2022’ organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, a think tank based in the capital.
“The army has publicly committed to stay out of politics. It’s now for the politicians to grab this opportunity with a sense of responsibility,” he said.
The president was referring to a statement by former army chief retired Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa that the military has decided to remain ‘apolitical’ after admitting the army’s “unconstitutional” meddling in the politics for almost seven decades.
Urges nation to ‘modify’ behaviour to save water; calls for modernising agriculture sector
In the context of intense political polarisation, President Alvi said politicians should talk and discuss all contentious matters.
“There is nothing which cannot be talked about,” he said while pleading with the political parties to “take the country out of crises and polarisation.”
On foreign relations, he underscored the need for engagement and said it was also important from the security perspective.
“Democracy, defence, information and communication, security, and economic independence were essential elements for comprehensive security,” he added.
He also regretted that debates on national issues, including health, economy, communication or development are held from “an elitist perspective”.
Separately, addressing ‘Sustainable Development Conference’ organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), an Islamabad-based think tank, the president advised the nation to conserve water, energy, and other natural resources.
“We must realise that our actions and irresponsible behaviour are the reason behind global warming,’’ the president said, adding that the rectification of such behaviour was needed to conserve depleting natural resources.
President Alvi also emphasised the modernisation of agriculture sector to make it more sustainable and productive.
Our agriculture practices have a high carbon footprint and the use of AI and modern technologies can improve yield, develop pest and climate resistance and lead to resource efficiency, he added.
The president said food scarcity can be countered by adopting AI and other modern technologies. He also quoted the example of the Netherlands, which, he said, was “19 times smaller than Pakistan” but due to the effective use of AI, the Internet of Things for crop and water management, it was the second largest food exporter in the world.
The event was also addressed by SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Suleri, PTI leader Senator Sania Nishtar and Commerce Minister Naveed Qamar.
Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2022