ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday urged the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the alliance of opposition parties, to desist from criticising or attacking the state institutions, as it would benefit the country’s enemies.
“Criticising the government or its policies is the democratic right of the opposition parties, but I urge them to exercise care while talking about the state institutions,” he said in an interview with a private television channel.
The president said the Indian media was giving extra coverage to the ongoing political activities in Pakistan.
It was the right of the opposition to express reservations about the government if any, but the political issues should be taken up at political levels, he remarked.
President Alvi recalled the protest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after the 2013 general election and said the party before going for public protest, had taken up the matter of its demand for the opening of four constituencies in the Parliament and courts, and also presented the evidence of rigging.
The opposition parties should also present the evidence of rigging in the election, he said, adding Prime Minister Imran Khan had offered them to open any constituency/constituencies for probing their claims.
The president said the state institutions had not any role in the elections, as they were called by the government to assist the civil administration in maintenance of law and order, and security as the polling exercise involved the mobility of millions of voters on a single day.
He said that as far as the 2018 general election was concerned, various independent surveys and opinion polls, including the Gallup Polls, had predicted the victory of PTI.
Recognising the importance of free, fair and transparent elections in a democratic system, the president, however, recalled that when he was a member of the Elections Reforms Committee, he had proposed improvement in the voting system through various modern means, including the introduction of electronic voting.
He further said that it was after the Panama Papers case verdict by the Supreme Court (SC) that the then-government and now the opposition started attacking the institutions, first the courts and then the army.
To a question about the private discussions on introducing the presidential form of government in Pakistan, President Alvi said that when it came to the issues of governance or tackling corruption, “it is not the system which matters but the leadership”.
About the fears of the second wave of coronavirus in the country, the president said the number of new corona cases in Pakistan was touching over 700 per day with some deaths and advised the people to continue to adopt the Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to protect themselves.
With the second spike of Covid-19 in various countries, including Europe, and deaths being reported, there was a need to adopt extra protective measures in Pakistan as well, he stressed.
The president recalled how Pakistan remained successful in the fight against Covid-19 during the previous months, a fact also recognised by various international institutions, including the World Health Organization (WHO). The people should continue to take protective measures, including the use of face masks, hand-washing and social distancing, he added.
He also urged the participants of the opposition’s political rallies to use face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
President Alvi said the nations, which developed the institutions, always succeeded, and the institutions in Pakistan were on the course of development.
It was the coordination among the institutions and provinces that brought about success to Pakistan in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, he added.
He said that contrary to India, Pakistan successfully averted the severity of economic distress consequent to the prudent decisions taken by the government and timely support to the construction industry to save the people from unemployment.
He also said that due to the very reasons, Pakistan’s stock market was on a surge, which showed the investors’ confidence in the government’s policies.
The president emphasised that the continuity of policies was inevitable for national development, which must go on regardless of any change in the government.
Referring to the remarks of former US treasury secretary and renowned economist Lawrence ‘Larry’ Summers that the United States could have saved around $10 trillion if it had handled Covid-19 like Pakistan, the president said the success was achieved due to coordination and better data sharing among the national institutions and implementation by the federating units with a bit change.
He, however, said the incidents like the political sloganeering at the Quaid’s Mausoleum by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Captain (r) Safdar Awan in fact diverted the government’s attention from real issues.
To a question about his special focus on health and IT subjects, he said he had not a ministerial role, and he rather discussed and coordinated the mattes with relevant ministries.
Being head of the Task Force on Information Technology (IT), the president said, he chaired meetings on IT issues as he had done on the day (Wednesday) to discuss the idea of electronic voting for overseas Pakistanis.
He viewed that excellence in the health and education sectors could steer the country out of poverty.