President Arif Alvi on Friday asked all political parties to pause politics and urged all stakeholders to launch a nationwide drive to mobilise people to assist civil and military administrations in their rescue and relief efforts for flood victims.
The president’s call comes at a time when Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, top party leadership and Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi are busy holding power shows in different cities.
Nevertheless, PTI leaders have defended the move to hold rallies amid criticism from the federal government. The president’s remarks came in a meeting with senior media persons who called on him at Aiwan-e-Sadr on Friday.
Meanwhile, Alvi clarified that “as the president he did not have a constitutional obligation to play a role to defuse the current political polarisation”. However, Alvi said, “If all stakeholders agree, I will volunteer in his personal capacity to mediate among the stakeholders on major questions faced by the country, including the date of next elections, consensus-based economic charter, and the way forward on making key appointments.”
The president 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.”
Alvi called upon all 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.
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 emphasised 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 minimise 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.
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 recognised norms of interstate relations.
In reply to a question, the president endorsed the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan and expressed his concern on the allegations by the acting defence minister of Afghanistan regarding the use of Pakistan’s air space in the US counter-terrorism drone operation in Afghanistan.
He said that in the absence of any evidence such conjectural allegations were regrettable.