President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday urged political parties to put politics on the back burner and asked all stakeholders to launch a nationwide drive to mobilise people and organisations to assist civil and military administrations in their rescue and relief efforts in the devastating floods.
In what seems to be a clear departure from his party chairman Imran Khan’s current strategy, Alvi’s call to shun politicking stood out because it appeared to put him at odds with the sparkly, booming power shows in several cities of PTI.
It may be recalled here that PTI has invited vehement criticism from the ruling coalition for its alleged ‘relaxed’ and ‘nonchalant’ stance taken toward the evolving flood calamity as it continues to zoom around several cities to mount pressure on the government. Nevertheless, PTI leaders have defended their rallies.
The president’s remarks came in a meeting held at Aiwad-e-Sadr with senior media persons including Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami, Suhail Warraich, Gauhar Zahid Malik, Awais Rauf, and Nawab Kaifee.
Meanwhile, Alvi clarified that “as a president, he did not have a constitutional obligation to play a role to defuse the current political polarisation”.
“However, if all the stakeholders agreed, he would volunteer in his personal capacity to mediate among the stakeholders on major questions faced by the country, including the date of the next elections, consensus-based economic charter, and the way forward on making key appointments.”
Answering a question, Alvi reiterated that “all the institutions, including the judiciary and the army, should not be used for political point scoring, as such comments were not in the greater national interest.”
In a tacit reference to Imran’s chief of staff Dr Shahbaz Gill, who is facing incarceration on charges of inciting mutiny in the army, Alvi said that “we needed to understand that any comment, narrative or analysis, having the potential to create division within the institutions or between the institutions and people of Pakistan, could never be in our national interest.”
Dr Alvi called upon all the political parties, opinion leaders, eminent members of the civil society and the media persons to remain within the confines of Article 19 of the Constitution and relevant laws and regulations while discussing or commenting on institutions.
Talking to the senior journalists about his visit to flood-hit areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Southern Punjab, and the low-lying areas of Sindh and Balochistan, the president said that this unprecedented catastrophe had been induced due to global warming and climate change whereas Pakistan contributed less than 1% to the global carbon emissions.
President Alvi further said that the developed world, being the major contributor to global warming and climate change, should proportionally bear the burden of rescue and relief operations, reconstruction of damaged communication infrastructure, rebuilding the destroyed houses and compensating the people for lost property, livestock and standing crops.
The president highlighted that the climate catastrophe had affected more than 33 million people; 1,100 people including over 350 children had lost their lives; more than 1,600 people had been injured; over 1 million houses had been partially or completely destroyed; entire villages had been wiped out; over 735,000 livestock had perished; two million acres of crops had been inundated, and the communications infrastructure had severely been damaged.
He also emphasized the need to launch a nationwide drive for increasing the forest cover in the country, shifting from fossil fuels to alternative means of energy and building delay-action and large dams to minimize the effects of climate change.
During the meeting, Alvi said that almost 90 per cent of social media was providing knowledge, information, education and entertainment to the masses at no or nominal cost which was a healthy trend.
“Certain individuals or groups who are followers of certain political parties or a leader use social media for trolling and starting insulting and derogatory trends against certain individuals and institutions without the knowledge or consent of the political party or the leader but such trends are attributed to them without any evidence”, he added. He said that such unverified attributions add to the existing political polarization, which should be avoided.
During discussions on the foreign policy of Pakistan, the president said that Pakistan had always pursued friendly and cordial relations with all countries of the world and had been playing its due role in promoting the internationally recognized norms of interstate relations.
He said that Pakistan strongly believed in mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States, non-interference in the internal affairs of other States, non-aggression and peaceful settlement of disputes, and in return demanded the same treatment from other countries.
The president said that due to the unique strategic and geo-economic location of Pakistan, it had always been considered important by regional and international powers, adding that keeping the national interest supreme, we should maintain cordial relations with all the countries while ensuring dignity and sovereignty of the country and the people of Pakistan.
In reply to a question, the president endorsed the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan and expressed his concern about the allegations by the Acting Defence Minister of Afghanistan regarding the use of Pakistan’s air space in the U.S. counter-terrorism drone operation in Afghanistan.
He said that in the absence of any evidence, as acknowledged by the Afghan Minister himself, such conjectural allegations were highly regrettable and reaffirmed Pakistan’s belief in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states.
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