In a bid to create a level playing field before general elections in January, President Arif Alvi on Tuesday stressed the need to “end bitterness” and make way for “cooperation and forgiveness”.

His remarks come as Pakistan is gearing up for polls. Last month, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced that polls would be held in the last week of January 2024 but didn’t specify a date.

While the JUI-F has raised objections over the timing of the elections, the PPP and PTI have repeatedly bemoaned the lack of a level playing field. Meanwhile, the PML-N is preparing for the return of party supremo Nawaz Sharif later this month.

On the other hand, the interim government has dispelled the impression of caretakers being a ‘B’ team of the PML-N, adding that it did not have any favourites.

In a meeting with Senator Muhammad Ali Khan Durrani at the Aiwan-e-Sadr today, the president said the upcoming general elections should be free, fair, transparent and inclusive.

According to a statement issued by the President’s House, Alvi stressed that all political parties and their leadership should be given equal opportunities to participate in the electoral process to “strengthen democracy in the country”.

“Democracy will be meaningless if people are not able to elect a leader of their choice,” he said.

The president emphasised there was a dire need for political and institutional unity in the country to battle challenges, such as rising inflation.

“Bitterness should end, and a way should be carved for cooperation and forgiveness,” he stated.

President Alvi further said that ownership and backing were needed from the public to take difficult decisions. “The upcoming general elections provide a good opportunity to create the vibrancy needed to rebuild our country,” he said, adding that political participation was the spirit of democracy.

Alvi’s remarks come as the PTI — the party to which he belongs — and its incarcerated chief Imran Khan face mounting legal challenges as well as a state crackdown, which was launched following May 9 riots and stand to threaten their participation in polls.

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