PM responds to President


AS apprehended, the letter written by President Dr Arif Alvi to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has not contributed to lowering of the ongoing political tension and instead compounded it further as the latter has given a strongly worded reply to the former. In a five-page reply, the Prime Minister stated that Alvi’s letter was “blatantly partisan” and in parts read like “a press release of the opposition political party Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) whose one-sided, anti-government views you continue to openly espouse, notwithstanding your constitutional oath/office of President”. The PM highlighted several occasions where, according to him, the president violated his oath including the order of the dissolution of the National Assembly on 3 April and failure to discharge his constitutional duty upon Shehbaz Sharif’s election as the Prime Minister.

Given the extreme polarization and trust deficit, the contents of the letters written to each other by the two constitutional offices would be used by the two opposing sides to strengthen their viewpoints on the issues involved and in the process political tension could increase further. The President definitely had a point in taking up the issue of delay in the holding of elections for the Punjab Assembly. The President expressed his concern over the move of the Election Commission of Pakistan, which was the outcome of an intensive consultative process, and the Prime Minister could have explained the position of the Government on the issue. However, the accusatory language used by the President and insensitivity shown towards violence against personnel of law enforcing agencies made all the difference. It was because of this reason that the Prime Minister noted with regret the failure of the head of the state in noting the ‘sheer isolation of laws, contumacious disregard of court orders, attacking the law enforcement agencies, damaging public property, attempts to create chaos, civil and political unrest, and in short, to bring the country to the brink of economic default and civil war by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-lnsaf (PTI).’ As the issue of postponement of elections in Punjab would be taken up by the Supreme Court, the contents of the two letters might reverberate in the courtroom as well with for and against remarks by judges and lawyers. There are, therefore, reasons to believe that both the letters are politically motivated and against the spirit of harmonious working relationship between the two offices. They should, therefore, have been avoided or drafted carefully.