LAHORE: President Dr Arif Alvi said on Thursday that a “minus one formula” to knock Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan out of national politics would not succeed.
Speaking to journalists at the Governor’s House, he said any move to oust the former prime minister from politics would create a strong public reaction. He said he had tried to play a mediatory role between the opposition and ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) many times but there was complete silence from the government side. “The government will be playing with fire if it arrests Imran Khan,” he warned, as speculations are rife about the possibility after Fawad Chaudhry’s detention.
To a question, the president said he had no doubt about Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif proving his majority in the assembly if asked to take a vote of confidence.
The president said the former prime minister’s arrest would be tantamount to fuelling anarchy in the country. He argued that arresting the PTI chief or any senior politician would lead to ‘resistance’ and instability in the country. “If a government tries to detain its opponents, it creates chaos,” he added.
The president also deplored the manner in which Fawad Chaudhry had been presented before the Islamabad court and asked the officials to “be ashamed of themselves” as they covered his head with a white sheet and also handcuffed him.
“Institutions shouldn’t need the police to maintain their respect. If someone has an issue with me, I will improve my performance instead of asking the police to take action,” he maintained.
Despite persistent agitation from the party since Imran Khan’s ouster from power in April last year, the president reiterated that the former prime minister was not against talks. “If politicians do not want to sit and negotiate, then what can I do? Imran Khan is not against talks, however, there was no response from the government,” he said, adding that Imran Khan was even ready to reconsider early polls as he wanted the government to begin negotiations.
As confusion surrounds elections in Punjab, President Alvi said he had spoken to Punjab Governor Baligh-ur-Rehman about the date for polls. “The governor told me that had he signed the summary to dissolve the assembly, only then he would have issued a date for elections. He told me that he would not take any unconstitutional move,” he said, adding that the PTI chief also feared the polls might be delayed.
To a question about the PTI’s demand for elections across the country, the president said that Imran Khan had concerns about the government’s intent, suggesting that the opposition and the government sit together to discuss all issues.