ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi on Friday urged political parties to pause their political activities owing to the devastating floods, saying any narrative that created divisions within national institutions was not in the national interest.

The president also urged all stakeholders to launch a nationwide drive to mobilise the nation of the country.

Dr Alvi’s comments came on the same day his party chief and former prime minister Imran Khan addressed a public meeting in Gujrat. Mr Khan had also held a rally in Sargodha on Thursday.

President Alvi said although as the president he did not have a constitutional obligation to play a role to defuse the current political polarisation, he would volunteer in his personal capacity to mediate between them over major issues like the next elections, a consensus-based economic charter, and the way forward on making key appointments.

President approves bill suggesting death penalty for drug trafficking

“Businesses, civil society and humanitarian organizations should assist the civil and military administrations in their rescue and relief efforts to rehabilitate the flood victims and for the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure,” the president said during a meeting with media persons.

In reply to a question, the president reiterated that no institution, including the judiciary and the army, should be used

for political point-scoring as such comments were not in the greater national interest.

“We need to understand that any comment, narrative or analysis, having the potential to create divisions within institutions or between institutions and people of Pakistan, could never be in our national interest.”

Talking about the use of social media, Dr Alvi said certain users following a political party or a leader trolled and initiated derogatory trends against certain individuals and institutions without the knowledge or consent of the party or leader they supported. Such unverified attributions added to polarisation, he added.

President Alvi highlighted that the climate catastrophe had affected more than 33 million people, while 1,100 people, including over 350 children, had lost their lives. He emphasised the need for launching a nationwide drive for increasing forest cover in the country, shifting from fossil fuels to alternative means of energy and building delay-action and large dams to minimise the effects of climate change.

Moreover, he said, Pakistan had always pursued friendly and cordial relations with all countries. In reply to a question, he endorsed the Foreign Ministry’s statement and expressed concern over the allegations by Afghanistan’s acting defence minister regarding the use of Pakistan’s air space by US drones for operations insdie Afghan­istan.

In the absence of any evidence, as acknowledged by the Afghan minister, such unfounded allegations were highly regrettable, the president said, and reaffirmed Pakistan’s belief in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states.

Anti-Narcotics Bill: President Alvi approved the Control of Narcotic Substances (Amendment) Bill 2022, making it into law, which suggested death punishment as a maximum sentence for drug trafficking.

“The bill provides death or life imprisonment for offences related to the illicit trafficking of narcotics and psychotropic drugs of varying quantity, including heroin, morphine, cocaine and methamphetamine (ice),” said a press release issued by the Presidency.

The law provides imprisonment, which could extend to life imprisonment, but not less than 20 years with a fine not less than Rs1 million for offences involving heroin and morphine of four kilogrammes or more. It also provides a punishment of death or imprisonment, which shall not be less than life, along with a fine up to Rs2m but not less than Rs1.5m for offences involving heroin or morphine of 6kg or more.

The law provides for punishment of death or imprisonment for life not less than 20 years along with a fine of at least Rs2.5m for offences involving 5kg cocaine or more, and similar punishments for psychotropic substance methamphetamine (ice).

It provides for maximum punishment if the offence involving a drug or psychotropic substance is committed inside or near an educational institution.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2022

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