January 27, 2023
ISLAMABAD – President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday said the government should “desist and restrain itself” from arresting any popular leader, saying that it could “catapult the country into further chaos”.
He made the remarks while speaking to Lahore-based journalists at Governor House, a press release issued by the President’s Secretariat said.
Although the president did not name any politician in particular, the comments follow the arrest of PTI’s Fawad Chaudhry.
Further, rumours have also circulated regarding the possible arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan. On Wednesday, PTI supporters and leaders camped outside Imran’s Zaman Park residence to defend their leader.
The statement issued today quoted the president as saying, “The government should desist and restrain itself from arresting any popular leader as there is 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 further said that all stakeholders should “avoid taking any action which had the potential of creating strife and unrest in the country”, warning that if such strife resulted in public agitation, it may be difficult to manage.
‘No justification for delaying polls’
During the talk, the president said that there was no reason that could justify delaying polls. The president said he had “full confidence” that the people, the relevant institutions and political parties would ensure elections were conducted within the timeframe specified in the Constitution.
He said that the Constitution was “supreme and sacred and could not be ignored”. Alvi further said that he would always follow the spirit of the Constitution in all matters, setting aside his personal likes and dislikes.
He said that the objective of a caretaker government was to “ensure neutrality” so that polls were held in a transparent, fair and just manner by giving all parties a level playing field, stressing that this spirit should be reflected in selecting an interim government.
The president said that it was “unfortunate” that several results from the recently held local government elections in Sindh were delayed. He emphasised on using technology, especially electronic voting machines, to ensure speedy compilation of results and transparency.
The statement quoted Alvi as saying that he had asked political and other stakeholders time and again to “lower down the political as well as economic temperature “ which was only possible by forming a consensus on the major issues confronting the nation.
He said that the Punjab governor had told him that no action outside the confines of the Constitution would be taken with regards to holding elections in the province.
‘Minus-one formula has never worked’
President Alvi also stated that he “believed” the military establishment’s intention to disassociate itself from politics.
He urged politicians to “grab this opportunity, take charge, and resort to democratic means of resolving the issues faced by the nation”.
He said that history had proven that the “minus-one” formula never worked and elements either talking about it or pursuing it were not doing any service to the country.
Alvi said that the international economic outlook and “our own weaknesses” had resulted in a dire economic situation and higher inflation, while conditions likely to be imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would further burden the public.
He added that talks on the ninth review would be held soon, which required a “fully mandated government in power to prepare the people for upcoming financial and economic tightening”.
However, Alvi said that despite his worries, he was “confident that Pakistan would not default and the economy would regain strength”.