President Arif Alvi has expressed dissatisfaction over the “American conspiracy” narrative that caused the removal of his party chairman Imran Khan’s government through a parliamentary no-trust vote and stressed that the matter should be fully investigated.

In an interview to a private channel on Monday, the president said that, “I am convinced that there should be an investigation on this, but I do not agree that there was a conspiracy.”

The president also called for an investigation into the issue of cypher, saying that the government had issued a demarche to the United States to convey that the words used by the US official were not appropriate.

He said he was not convinced about the conspiracy but sent a letter on the issue of diplomatic cable to the chief justice to remove the PTI chief’s doubts.

President Alvi said that he requested the Supreme Court to take into account the evidence of the incident while taking up the matter.

In response to a question, he said that Imran was very disappointed with the manner in which his government was ousted and for that reason he decided not to sit in the assembly.

When asked about the party’s decision regarding resignations from the National Assembly, President Alvi said that if he had been consulted, he could have given a ‘different advice’.

COAS APPOINTMENT: On the question of appointment of the army chief, President Alvi said that constitutional procedures should be followed in the appointment of the next chief of the army staff.

He said that there should be a consultation on this matter and it is desired that the summary of the appointment of the army chief should reach him after due diligence.

The president said that there is a consultation going on in London regarding the appointment of the army chief and he learned about it through the newspaper. “I want that there should be a wider consultation,” he maintained.

The government should consult PTI chief Imran Khan on the matter, he added.

The incumbent army chief’s six-year tenure ends in late November and the chief military spokesperson had already clarified that the current army chief had no intention to seek further extension.

COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa was given a three-year extension in November 2019 by then prime minister Imran Khan, citing regional security environment and challenges.

When asked whether he would play his role to bridge gaps between the PDM government and PTI, he said that he was impartial as the president and his affiliation with the former ruling party was a thing of the past. “PTI is my past… it is a very good past,” he added.

He reiterated his resolve to address several problems prevailing in the country. “A maverick alone cannot solve all the issues, but a president can make efforts to bridge the gulf,” he maintained.

Commenting on PTI’s forthcoming long march on Islamabad and military’s possible role in this regard, Alvi said the military had a constitutional role to play, adding that the army must remain ‘neutral’ with regards to the country’s politics.

POLITICAL POLARISATION: President Alvi called upon the parties across the spectrum to sit together and resolve issues related to the economy and elections in a bid to end political polarisation in the country.

He said dialogue was necessary for settling political issues between the government and the opposition, and the parliament was a suitable place for negotiations, but the same could also be held outside of it.

Alvi said in the first phase, the dialogue could be started among the second-tier leadership of the political parties to remove misunderstandings and bring unity among the public.

The people were concerned about the political polarisation and one of its causes were different political parties at the helm of affairs at the Centre and in the provinces, he viewed.

He said the country was facing multiple issues, including inflation and debt burden. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan would have to decide about sitting with the government on the issues of economy and election, he added.

To a question, Dr Alvi said Article 6 could only be applied to those who either abrogated the Constitution or held it in abeyance with the use of force.

He said he had been criticising the successive governments over the issues of press freedom and the weakening economy, and his criticism was not limited to the present coalition government.

To a query, President Alvi said the army was not playing any role in political matters. But the army should play its constitutional role such as it was performing during the natural disasters and recent floods, besides advising the government on foreign affairs, he said in response to another question.

He, however, observed that being the biggest stakeholders of the country, the politicians should play their role as they were connected to the people.

EARLY ELECTIONS: President Alvi said there was a possibility of early general elections, saying both the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and the PTI wanted early polls in the past. “Even the Supreme Court had considered the issue of early elections and consulted the politicians,” he added.

“I am trying to evolve an understanding of these issues and I will facilitate the process. The most important issue is the holding of free and fair elections.”

The president said for the last 12 years he had been advocating for the use of electronic voting machines in the elections and as it was the only way to stop rigging on polling day. No elections since 1970 had been considered free and fair, he remarked.

He said the use of technology was an option to hold transparent elections, as India had been using electronic machines since 1985.

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