President Arif Alvi offers to mediate between govt, PTI

President calls for lowering simmering political temperature in the country

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President Arif Alvi gestures during an address. — AFP/File
President Arif Alvi gestures during an address. — AFP/File

  • President says dialogue should be held ahead of elections. 
  • Says he tried to end misunderstandings between Gen (retd) Bajwa and Imran Khan.
  • Says he did nothing wrong on seeking PTI chief's advice on COAS appointment 

ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi has offered to mediate between the Shehbaz Sharif-led government and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to lower the rising political temperature in the country.

Alivi, a close aide of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, in an interview with BBC Urdu on Thursday, said that it is now inevitable to cool down the simmering tension and advised the political leadership to hold talks.

"It is my offer to them [political parties] to sit together and then senior leadership can hold talks," said Dr Alvi. 

The president, who had held multiple rounds of talks with federal ministers in the past, alleged that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government is using delaying tactics with regards to PTI, adding that "there's no communication between the two parties in the past one month".

Dr Alvi added that the government has indicated its willingness to hold talks with the PTI but no results were coming out of it. 

Talking about the economy, the president said that there was a chance of improvement and dismissed reports of Pakistan defaulting on its international obligations.

“I am telling everyone not go in that direction rather, come together and work,” he said. “It would have been better if they listened to me. I am not a philosopher but, if you look at surveys of that time, it shows that there should have been a dialogue.”

The president lamented that he himself did not understand who was more “reluctant”.

Dr Alvi said that it is an election year and emphasised that dialogue should be held before the polls. He added that matters related to elections should be sorted so there can be focus on the economy and welfare projects.

Ties between Gen (retd) Bajwa and Khan

Responding to a question regarding ties between deposed prime minister Khan and ex-army chief General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa, President Alvi said that he was not privy to any specific information on the matter.

All this was available in the press, he said. Some misunderstandings were also coming out in public.

“I have tried to end such misunderstandings,” Alvi stressed. “Being the president, it is my responsibility to keep this federation together. Cooperation is better than discords for Pakistan and such is also my advice.”

The president blamed social media for the differences between the PTI chief and Gen (retd) Bajwa. “If social media is given more importance over such issues, then it leads to problems,” said Dr Alvi.

When pressed if the cause of “friction” between the former premier and the ex-army chief was the appointment of the then-director-general (DG) of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), President Alvi said that he would not talk about any specific person or incident.

“Who was not showing flexibility?” the president asked. “I was asking them to set aside differences and ignore social media.”

“People can’t forgive when I ask them to,” he said.

Responding to a question regarding the former army chief’s extension in service, President Alvi said he was not aware of such offers.

“This is what I am saying. Remove such misunderstandings by having a dialogue together,” he stressed. “Be it any party, opposition, government or the establishment, I am ready to bring people together.”

‘I can seek advice from anyone’

On the president’s decision to seek the PTI chief’s advice on the appointment of army chief Gen Asim Munir, President Alvi told the news platform that the last couple of surveys showed who is the most popular leader in the country.

“So, do you feel I should not seek advice from Pakistan’s most popular party?” asked Dr Alvi. He added that the constitution does not stop him from doing this and it is his choice to seek advice from anyone.

“I received congratulatory messages from the government and from all sides that the President has done the right thing. If the government is congratulating me then how can it be a wrong decision?” asked Dr Alvi. 

Last year in November, on the prime minister's recommendation, President Alvi signed the summary and approved the appointment of Gen Munir as the next chief of army staff and Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee (CJCSC).

But there was uncertainty around the appointments because the president before approving them had departed to Lahore to hold a meeting with the PTI chief on the key appointments.

All eyes were on the meeting as Khan, in an interview, had said that he and President Alvi would play “legally and constitutionally” on the matter.

But as soon as President Alvi reached Islamabad, he signed off the summary and approved the appointment of Gen Munir and Gen Mirza.