President for ‘trust-based’ govt-opposition cooperation

  • Dr Alvi asks all political parties to keep differences aside to achieve national agenda

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday stressed the need for enhanced and trust-based cooperation between the government and the opposition to achieve the goal of country’s socio-economic development as a national agenda while keeping their political differences aside.

“Before my election as the president, I met various political leaders including PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and told them that we can resolve our problems and reach the destination through cooperation with trust,” he said in an interview with the state-run Pakistan Television.

President Alvi said that though he was elected as the president with the support and nomination of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), but after taking the oath of the office, he was apolitical and representing the federation of Pakistan. “As president, all the provinces, cities, and areas are now equal for me, and I have to and would be working and fulfilling my responsibilities within the constitutional framework.”

About the government’s direction towards achieving its promised change of a new Pakistan, he expressed his confidence that despite various challenges facing the country a big change was in the offing. To another question about corruption, he said that there was a strong political will and serious efforts were afoot to tackle this menace.

However, he said that the fear of punishment, social pressures, fear of strict laws and accountability could serve as major deterrents in tackling the menace of corruption to a large extent. About recovery of alleged billions of dollars looted money from home and abroad, he referred to some foreign reports which claimed that $10 billion were invested annually by Pakistanis in Dubai.

“With the improved investment climate in our country, people would now prefer to invest in their own country,” he said. At present, Pakistan offers best investment-friendly climate with a lot of opportunities in various sectors of economy, he said.

Asked about the effects of revised finance bill presented by the government in the National Assembly on the general public, the president said that as the country was facing economic challenges in the areas of current account, trade deficit etc, the government was taking some measures to improve the situation. About the government’s austerity measures and not using the lavish state buildings as their residences including by the prime minister, he said though it was symbolic but reflected the Islamic values in which the leaders were considered as trustees of people.

In response to a question, he said that he and the prime minister did not like unnecessary protocols, but as far as the security of the leaders was concerned, it could not be compromised. Keeping in view his constitutional limitations, he said that he wanted to work in the areas of health, education and women empowerment. He said that he had invited the women lawmakers for a meeting to discuss the issues like curbing breast cancer as well as the women inheritance.

To another question, he vowed to work for the problems faced by the people of Karachi like water, sanitation, cleanliness, transport and health in coordination with the federal and provincial governments. The president, who was a dentist by profession, recalled his efforts for strengthening democracy in Pakistan and said as a political worker he used to participate in the protests against former military ruler General Ayub Khan.

Later, he said he joined PTI as a founding member in 1996 and continued to work with Imran Khan to bring a change in the country. When asked what should be the way forward regarding Pakistan’s foreign policy, he said that Pakistan wanted its relations with the world on equality basis. “We shall live with dignity,” he said. “The time has come to say goodbye to our transaction relationships with the US, our relationships should be based on principles, he said.

If the US policy in Afghanistan was facing with failure, then Pakistan was not responsible for it, he said. He said that Pakistan wanted good and peaceful relations with Afghanistan, as peace in Afghanistan would have positive effects on Pakistan and both the neighbouring countries could become the best trade partners. Similarly, he said that Pakistan also wanted good relations with Iran and the Russian Federation.

President Alvi said that the people of Kashmir and Palestine were fighting the war of independence since long and neither India nor Israel could suppress their right to self-determination through the use of brutal force. He said that until the Indian government did not realise inspirations of the Kashmiri people, peace could not return to the divided state. He said that the Kashmir issue should be resolved according to the UN resolutions.

About donations for the construction of the Diamir-Bhasha and Mohmand dams, he said that Pakistan was confronted with acute water shortage and the time had come to contribute to this national cause with an open heart. He said that the benchmark of a collection of Rs 30 billion annually, set by Prime Minister Imran Khan for this noble cause should be achieved without any hindrance. He said that the two dams would be constructed with the support of people and contributions would be collected through various routes including alms, taxes etc.

About his role as the president, Dr Arif Alvi said that his priority areas were education, health, water and higher education and he wanted to work with those ministries to play his role. “I want to promote education and skilled workforce in every nook and cranny, which would not only create job opportunities but would have far-reaching effects on the community and Pakistan’s economy,” he said. Being president, he said he would try his best to fulfill his responsibilities and duty.