PRESIDENT Dr Arif Alvi Friday urged Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to ensure implementation of the Supreme Court order about the general election in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. In a letter to the PM, he emphasized that all relevant executive authorities of the federal and provincial governments should be directed to refrain from abuse of human rights and assist the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold the general election in two provinces within the constitutional time-frame, in compliance of the apex court order, to avoid further complications, including contempt of court.
The letter has given a new twist to the ongoing political tussle as the coalition government believes the head of the state was openly pleading the cause of his own parent party. This is also evident from the sharp reaction given by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah to the letter urging the President to stay within his legal limits and constitutional ambit and that he ‘should not become a puppet of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan.’ The Government also questions the neutrality of the President pointing out that he did not raise issues of constitutional violations and human rights abuses when the PTI was in power. Irrespective of the viewpoint of the Government, the President certainly has a role to play to end the political impasse which is causing huge losses to the country with the possibility of harming the democratic process. The anxiety of the President is understandable as he announced a date in the light of directions of the apex court and wants the electoral process to move forward. If democratic practices are implemented in their true spirit, the existing set-up, where the President belongs to one party (though notionally he is supposed to be bipartisan) and the Prime Minister to the other side of the conflict, would have served as an ideal combination but things are moving in a wrong direction due to trust deficit. Things would not move towards resolution if the President initiates moves considered as a charge sheet and the other side comes out with a strong rebuttal. It would be in the interest of the country if holders of the top two offices sit together, discuss all issues threadbare and find a mutually satisfactory solution.