Govt should desist from ‘arresting any popular leader’

Alvi says no reason can justify postponement of elections under law

Our Correspondent January 26, 2023
President Dr Arif Alvi talking to Lahore-based journalists at Governor House, Lahore on January 26, 2023. PHOTO: PID


President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday 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 might catapult the country into further chaos and add to the misery and hardships of the common people.

The president’s statement comes a day after PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry was arrested, and workers as well as supporters of the party had camped outside Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence to defend their chief.

Talking to media persons at the Governor House, Alvi said, “All stakeholders should avoid taking any action which has the potential of creating strife and unrest in the country and if such strife results into agitation by the public, it may be difficult to manage.”

In a vague reference to the arrest of Fawad by the Lahore police in the sedition case, he said: “It is unfortunate that politicians are handcuffed on allegations of contempt and are presented to the court with their faces covered, which is highly unfortunate as this kind of treatment is meted out to a hardcore terrorist or criminal and not to a politician or any other citizen.”

Fawad was taken into custody on Wednesday morning after an FIR was registered against him at Islamabad’s Kohsar police station by an official of the ECP for “threatening” members of the commission, including the chief, and their families.

After his arrest from outside his residence in Lahore, Fawad was taken to its Cantt Court, where the judicial magistrate granted the police the PTI leader's transit remand.

A statement issued by the Press Information Department regarding the president’s address to the media persons in Lahore stated that Alvi claimed 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 organised political parties that they would ensure holding of elections within the timeframe given in the Constitution.

“Pakistan’s Constitution is supreme and sacred and cannot be ignored,” he said, 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 personal likes or dislikes.

The president said that the spirit behind the caretaker government was to ensure its neutrality so that the elections were held in a transparent, fair and just manner by giving all political parties a level-playing field to contest the elections.

Alvi emphasised that this spirit should be reflected in the making of caretaker governments.

He said it was unfortunate that several results in local bodies elections held in Sindh were delayed, reemphasising the use of technology, especially electronic voting machines, to ensure speedy compilation of results and conduct free, fair and transparent elections.

The president 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 institutions agreed on major issues confronting the nation like political polarisation, economy and higher inflation faced by the people.

The president said that the international economic outlook and “our own weaknesses resulted in a dire economic situation as well as higher inflation” and the conditionalities likely to be imposed by the IMF might further put pressure on the socioeconomic wellbeing of the people.

He added that the ninth 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 its strength.

Alvi said that during his first meeting with the incumbent Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, he had advised him to take initiatives in 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 minimise use of power.


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