President Dr Arif Alvi has said that social media was one of the reasons for differences between former prime minister Imran Khan and ex-army chief General (retired) Qamar Javed Bajwa.

In an interview with BBC Urdu, the president said that misunderstandings were created by giving “undue importance to social media” and said that the country’s “decision-making powers” were unable to “handle” social media.

Alvi, who also offered to mediate between Imran and the current coalition government in the interview, said that problems arise when social media is given “too much importance”.

“YouTube was shut down in Pakistan for two years. The reason for this was that decision-makers were unable to handle it.”

He said that those “making decisions in the country” were unable to handle social media the correct way. “In my opinion, they should handle it in a better way.”

When asked about ties between Imran and the former army chief, he said that “all was available in the press” and he didn’t have any specific information in this regard.

“I think there were some misunderstandings, which are now coming out in public. I tried to end the misunderstandings […] As the president of Pakistan, it is my constitutional responsibility to keep the federation together.”

Alvi also advised the military establishment and the country’s political parties that “cooperation is better than disagreements”.

“This is important for Pakistan. This is the advice I give to everyone in public and in private.”

When the interviewer asked the president whether differences between Imran and the ex-army chief developed over the appointment of the country’s spymaster, the president said he would not talk about a specific person or incident.

However, without naming anyone, the president said that “all parties were demonstrating inflexibility” and his advice was not sought.

He further said that he advised those being inflexible to let bygones be bygones, adding that “it “would have been better” if his advice was heeded.

“If you look at the surveys from that time, the entire country was saying that talks should take place. I still don’t understand who was more reluctant. When I say let bygones be bygones, people are unable to do it.”

The BBC Urdu report noted that President Alvi did not state if he was talking about the PTI or the former army chief, but said that “everyone was taking revenge in the political arena”.

The president was also asked whether there was any truth to reports claiming that the PTI had tried to convince Bajwa to extend his tenure during the meetings he facilitated.

The president responded by saying that he was unaware of the offers that were made.

“But I said that misunderstandings should be resolved by sitting together. Be it any political party, the opposition or the establishment, I am ready to play the role of a mediator.”

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