Arif and Shehbaz Sharif
Pakistan President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Image Credit: APP

Islamabad: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday termed the contents of the letter written by President Dr Arif Alvi as partisan in nature, one-sided and based upon anti-government views, which were openly espoused by the latter notwithstanding the constitutional oath/office of the president.

In response to the president’s letter of March 24 containing five pages and seven points, the prime minister said that he was constrained to express his disappointment at the blatant partisan nature of the letter, “which in parts reads like a Press Release of the Opposition political party i.e. the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

“Mr. President, the Constitution does not vest any powers in or assigns any functions to the President whereby the President can seek explanation from the Government or the Prime Minister. The only reason I am responding to your letter is because I want to bring your partisan attitude and actions on record and to set the record of our Government straight,” the contents of the letter shared by PM Office Media Wing quoted the prime minister as saying.

The prime minister stressed that he was fully aware of his duties and the duties of the federal government under the constitution and the government was fully committed to preserve, protect and defend the constitution and ensure that the fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens of Pakistan were not violated.

“However, our government is also determined to ensure that no one is allowed to violate the law, create unrest and attempts to cause irreparable harm to the state of Pakistan. I want to further assure you that our government will thwart any efforts to undermine the constitutionally elected government,” he added.

Further responding to reference made in the president’s letter of Article 46 of the Constitution and Rule 15 (5) of the Rules of Business, 1973 regarding holding of meaningful consultations between the president and prime minister, he said, the objection was out of place.

Under clause (1) of the Article 48, the president, in exercise of his functions, must act on and in accordance with the advice of the cabinet or the prime minister, he added. The prime minister noted “In very limited instances, the President acts in his discretion under the Constitution. Article 46 and Rule 15 (5) (b) supra are what they ordain. That, is keep the President informed. Nothing more and nothing less. These provisions or for that matter nothing else in the Constitution requires the Prime Minister to consult the President on the exercise of executive authority by the Federal Government.”

Regarding the president’s reference to holding of elections, the prime minister maintained that the ECP had announced October 8 as the new date for polls in Punjab after taking into account the ground realities.

All the federal and provincial government authorities furnished the relevant information to the ECP, he said, adding being the constitutional body, charged with the duty to organise and conduct elections, it was ultimately, the ECP’s decision to assess circumstances for organizing and conducting free and fair elections as required under clause (3) of Article 218.

The prime minister pointed out that the president did not object to the use of language and rather aggressive attitude of the former federal ministers who actively attempted to undermine the authority and credibility of ECP.

The prime minister further opined that at the behest of the PTI, the president gave dates for the general elections on the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and his decision of election date for KPK assembly was set aside by the Supreme Court. He said that the president did not raise any concerns on malafide dissolution of the provincial assemblies of the two provinces, that too at the behest of and to satisfy the ego of PTI’s chairman.

“The two provincial assemblies have been dissolved not for any constitutional or legal objective but to blackmail the governments in centre and the other two provinces with sole objective of forcing them to dissolve the National and the other two provincial assemblies,” he added.

The prime minister cited that the constitutional distortion also completely escaped the president’s attention regarding effects of conducting elections to two provincial assemblies prior to the general elections of the National Assembly inasmuch, as organizing and conducting free and fair elections under clause (3) of Article 218 might not be possible with the elected provincial government in these provinces.