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ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi said that political polarisation should be stopped and all political leaders and stakeholders should sit together and fix a date for holding free, fair and transparent elections to bring stability to the country.

While addressing a joint session of the Parliament on Thursday, the president said, “If you decide the issue of election together, then the current division and political situation can be improved. There is a disagreement among the political leadership on this issue for a few months, the solution of which can be found through mutual consultation.

I believe that the best solution to end political polarization is to hold free, fair and transparent elections. This year is an election year, but holding elections is a political decision. I feel that to get the nation out of this state of agitation, it is necessary that the politicians sit together and decide the date of the election.”

The president said “beside it, an important topic which is of national importance and on which I have worked a lot is the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). I had presented a consensus document in this Parliament. On which, there was a discussion in the Parliament Committee on how elections can be conducted in a transparent manner with the help of EVMs. The Parliament Committee on the matter, which I chaired, decided that it should be improved to launch the process of EVMs but it could not be done so far.

So, I think this machine is necessary for transparency on election day. The EVM cannot look back on what happened before the election, who forced whom to vote? This machine can only ensure that elections are fair and transparent on election day. It also has a paper ballot. So, I want you to pay attention to this.”

Next general elections to be held as per schedule: Khawaja Asif

Highlighting the importance of remittances, President Alvi called for giving overseas Pakistanis the right to vote through the latest facility of technology. He said the Apex Court also accepted the right of vote of overseas Pakistanis. He said the government should take steps for the right of vote of overseas Pakistanis.

About economic stability, the president termed the agreement with the International Monitory Fund (IMF) “appropriate”, saying the deal enabled the country to avail funding from other global lenders. “I also thank the friendly countries that have helped us,” he said. He also emphasised the need for long-term economic policies, saying that policy continuation was essential to maintain economic stability and build investors’ confidence. “Policies should continue despite the change of governments to protect foreign investment,” he said.

The president said, “I understand that the current prime minister and the prime minister of the previous government also kept emphasizing that we have to stand on our feet economically. Last year our economy grew rapidly and recorded an impressive growth rate of 5.97 percent. We achieved this growth rate despite the adverse effects of the corona epidemic, the change of government in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US troops, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and other issues.

Due to these problems, our economic growth also got a shock but I hope that we will overcome our current economic problems.” He said, “We have to increase our exports and focus on information technology sector while developing rapidly. The people from all sectors want the policies to have continuity because without it neither investment can be attracted nor sustainable development is possible.”

“You all will agree with me that inflation is very high and I hope that with the efforts of the government, inflation will be controlled, God willing! but for this, we have to take steps as soon as possible. You know that in the past few days the value of the rupee has reached around 223 against the dollar. I expect the value of the rupee to be more stable against the dollar in the future.”

The president appreciated the government for starting the investigation into the audio leaks. He said “if someone comes from outside Pakistan, he must wonder what kind of people we are? As the issue [of audio leaks] has raised a serious question about the security of national interests and their secrecy,” he said.

About the foreign policy, the president appreciated the government’s efforts to improve relations with the US and European countries. “Pakistan-America ties are improving and they will continue to improve. We should maintain ties on the basis of mutual understanding,” he said.

Maintaining ties with the West, the president said, was vital for the country’s economy as Pakistan’s top export destinations were the US and Europe.

About Pakistan-China relations, the president said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a testament to the strong ties between the two countries. He also thanked Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for extending economic support to Pakistan, saying both countries had always helped Pakistan during difficult times.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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