President Dr Arif Alvi expressed serious concerns regarding Pakistan's economy and said that if all stakeholders, including political parties, don't ignore or put aside their differences and start discussions, the economic situation may worsen.
He said it was imperative to bring down the country's political temperature and that he had "offered dialogue among all stakeholders" for this purpose.
In an exclusive interview with BBC Urdu, President Alvi said that the current coalition government is being "evasive" in talks with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
According to him, during the last one month, there has been no communication between the PTI and coalition government and no response has been received over requests for negotiations.
President Alvi also told BBC that former prime minister Imran Khan, who is also the PTI chief, had expressed satisfaction over the appointment of General Asim Munir as the current army chief when Alvi had consulted the PTI chair over it. However, he said that he was not playing any role in conducting a dialogue between the current military leadership and Khan.
He emphasised on his offers of negotiations between the government alliance and PTI, saying he had urged them to "sit together".
"I am not talking about Imran Khan. I am saying that at least the political parties should negotiate with each other. After that, the major figures of the [political] parties can also meet," he explained.
Speaking about the tension between former army chief General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa and former PM Khan, the President blamed social media.
Misunderstandings arose because of undue importance given to social media, he reasoned, expressing the belief that the country's decision-makers "are not able to handle social media properly" and that they should do a better job of it.
President Alvi again highlighted that he had been trying to reduce differences in all these matters and would continue this process in future.
"I held meetings and asked everyone to minimise their differences. When we give too much importance to social media in these matters, problems arise. YouTube was shut down in Pakistan for two years because the opinion-makers couldn't handle it," he said.
When pressed if the cause of “friction” between former premier and ex-army chief was the appointment of 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 premier asked. “I was asking them to set-aside differences and ignore social media.”
“People can’t forgive when I ask them to,” he said.
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 delay tactics with regards to the PTI, adding that "there's been 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 economy, the president said that there was a chance of improvement and dismissed reports of Pakistan defaulting on its loans.
“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 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.
Responding to a question regarding 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.”
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