ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: While talking to Lahore-based journalists at Governor House in Lahore, President Dr. Arif Alvi has said that there was no reason that could justify the postponement of elections as they were required under the Constitution, adding that he had full confidence in the people of Pakistan, relevant institutions, and organized political parties that they would ensure holding of elections within the time-frame given in the Constitution.
The president said that Pakistan’s Constitution was supreme and sacred and could not be ignored, adding that as per the Constitution, he was to be a neutral President by all means, and he would always follow the spirit of the Constitution in all matters related to the conduct of official business by setting aside his person likes or dislikes.
The President said that spirit behind caretaker government was to ensure its neutrality so that elections are held in transparent, fair and just manner by giving all political parties level playing field to contest the elections.
He emphasized that this spirit should be reflected in the making of caretaker governments.
He said that this was unfortunate that several results in local bodies elections held in Sindh were delayed and reemphasized the use of technology, especially Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), to ensure speedy compilation of results and conduct free, fair and transparent elections.
The President further said that he had asked time and again the political and other relevant stakeholders that there was a dire need to lower down the political as well as economic temperature which was possible only when all stakeholders and relevant institution agreed on major issues confronting the nation like political polarization, economy and higher inflation faced by the people.
The President said that the international economic outlook and our own weaknesses had resulted in a dire economic situation and higher inflation and the conditionalities likely to be imposed by the IMF may further put pressure on the socio-economic wellbeing of the people.
He added that 9th review meeting of the IMF would be held sooner with additional conditionalities which required a fully mandated government in power to prepare the people for upcoming financial and economic tightening.
He said that despite his worries, he was confident that Pakistan would not default and the economy would regain strength.
The President said that during his first meeting with the incumbent Prime Minister, he had advised him to take initiatives in the public interest, which included conservation of electricity, gas and water, which basically did not involve spending a lot of money but only a change in attitudes and securing the willingness of the people to adjust their business hours to minimize use of electricity and powers.
The President said that President House was completely environment friendly and energy negative as it met all its energy needs using a 1 MW solar power plant installed at the Presidency, besides exporting surplus energy to the national grid.
He said that President House had been internationally recognized as an environment friendly Presidential Office and was the world’s first green presidency.
The President said that the government had yet not indicated its resolve to enter into dialogue and had not made any progress on this matter.
He opined that the government might have believed that after their understanding with the IMF and signing of an agreement with IMF, economic condition would have improved, thus, eliminating the need for any dialogue.
The President said that during his talk with the Governor of Punjab, he had told him that no action would be taken outside the confines of the Constitution with regard to holding of elections in the province.
Replying to a question, he said that he believed the intent expressed by the establishment to remain clear of politics and, therefore, he has urged the politicians to grab this opportunity, take charge, and resort to democratic means of resolving the issues faced by the nation.
He said that history, time and again, had proven that the formula of “minus-one” has never worked in the past and those elements, which were either talking about it or pursuing it, were not doing any service to the country.
He said that it was unfortunate that politicians were handcuffed on allegations of contempt and were presented to the court with their faces covered, which, he said, is highly unfortunate as this kind of treatment is meted out to a hardcore terrorist or criminal and not to the politician or any other citizen.
While replying to another question, he said that the government should desist and restrain itself from arresting any popular leader, as there was no logic or reason to do so and if done it may catapult the country into further chaos and will add to the misery and hardships of the common people.
He said that all the stakeholders should avoid taking any action which had the potential of creating strife and unrest in the country and if such strife results into agitation by the public that may be difficult to manage.
Replying to another question, the President said that the matter of killing of Arshad Sharif was still an unresolved mystery.
He said that no journalists or citizen deserved treatment which was beyond the legal, lawful and constitutional safeguards provided to them.
He said that until someone is convicted by the competent court of law, all citizens enjoy all rights provided to them under the law and Constitution.
While replying to a question, the President said that during his association with PTI, he was the one to advise about the creation of a Limited Liability Company for the transfer of donation from abroad which was the only way for the legal transfer of funds.
He said that this was absolutely legal and within the ambit of international rules and all such donations were treated in a transparent and legal manner.