Alvi ‘ready to play constitutional role’ to defuse increasing polarisation

— Says EVM was ‘solely’ his idea to help ensure free, fair, transparent polls

— Asserts banking channels be used for party funding to keep donations transparent

LAHORE: President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday expressed his willingness to play a role within the constitutional ambit to bring all political stakeholders to a negotiating table to help defuse the increasing polarisation in the country. 

Speaking to a group of editors and owners of media houses here at the Governor’s House, President Alvi said though the constitution didn’t allow him any such role, however, he would like to facilitate dialogue as an elder in his capacity as president.     

“I believe there is a need to initiate a consultative process to bring all important stakeholders to the table to listen to each other. However, the constitutional role of the President does not allow me officially to reach out to the stakeholders. Basically, it is the primary responsibility of the Executive and the opposition within the Assembly and in the mainstream and the relevant institutions to deliberate upon defusing the polarisation,” he said.

Alvi said that as President of Pakistan, all state institutions were respected and dear to him and he did not believe in triggering any controversy.

President Alvi said that the purpose of his media interaction with eminent media persons was to get a qualified input on the prevailing political and economic situation and discuss possible ways and means to bring down the political temperature in the country.

While agreeing with the views of the journalists, Alvi said that the political parties and stakeholders needed to sit together and chalk out an agreed way forward, especially with regard to holding free and fair elections and developing a charter of the economy.

The president, explaining the funding received by PTI from abroad, said that under United States laws, if a party wants to collect funds, it has to establish a company.

“[The ECP], however, claimed that a ‘company’ sent us funds, whereas, it were those companies which we established in line with the US and Canadian laws,” he said.

“I believe that corruption is a major factor in the backwardness of any country. One of the best ways to counter corruption is to make all financial transactions through formal Banking channels, especially by the political parties while receiving and managing donations,” he added.

Replying to another question, the president said stakeholders within Pakistan should only be involved in resolving the issues confronting the country without any involvement of any foreign persons or country.

While replying to another question, Alvi said that social media is now here to stay but unfortunately, we are not used to it and that it is difficult to control.

“Therefore, we need to focus on social media and on what is happening on it. Around 90% of the social media is good and provides lots of information while we should learn to deal with the remaining 10% by filtering out fake news and hearsay,” he added.

He further said he had a very cordial relationship with the existing government and he accorded timely approval to all the summaries except four summaries which were delayed while remaining within the ambit of the constitution.

“Around 85 summaries have been sent to the presidency by Prime Minister’s Office and I have approved all but two summaries which also were approved by the Joint session of the Parliament. Even today, I approved few summaries including the appointment of Chairman Pemra,” he asserted.

He said that he was the main proponent of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) since long even during the governments of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and later Mian Nawaz Sharif government.

“It was me who convinced PTI for the use of Technology during elections to help stop rigging. EVMs provide extremely simple solutions to conduct free and fair elections. There is a need for evolving consensus on the use of the technology during the election process which would strengthen the democratic process in the country,” he added.

While replying to a question, he said that through Mufti Taqi Usmani had offered the Afghan government to provide Distant Learning and Virtual Mode of education to Afghan students, especially female students. He said Mufti Taqi Usmani, during his talks with Pakistani Taliban, told them that out of all constitutions of the Muslim world, the closest constitution to Islam was the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. 

While commenting upon the recent reports of Taliban arrival in certain parts of the country, Alvi said that he did not have any opinion on it, as according to reports, the negotiations are underway. He said that he was of the opinion that any such negotiations should be mandated by the parliament and may be pursued in confidence to reach some amicable outcome. The result should be reported back to the parliament before making them public, he added.  

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