President Arif Alvi believes that the government will be ‘playing with fire’ if it resorts to arresting Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan – as speculations are rife after PTI Senior Vice President’s arrest. In a conversation with senior journalists on Thursday, the president, in response to a question about Khan’s arrest by the incumbent government, said: “It will be tantamount to setting a fire [fuelling anarchy in the country].” The president said that arresting the former primer minister or any senior politician would lead to “resistance”, hinting at instability if the government tries to detain its opponents. Arif Alvi said a “minus-one formula” to knock Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan out of the political contest would not be sucessful. Alvi said he tried to play a mediatory role between the opposition and the ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) multiple times but there was complete silence from the government side and they did not respond to my invitation. As for the PTI’s dire demand to hold snap elections across the country, the president said the deposed premier had concerns about PDM’s intent over holding the elections, adding that opposition and government should sit together to discuss election issues. “Minus-one” approach to knock Imran Khan out of the political arena won’t be successful because there would be strong public reaction over it,” said Alvi. He said there was no reason that could justify the postponement of elections as they were required under the Constitution. He, however, added he had full confidence in the people of Pakistan, relevant institutions, and organized political parties that they would ensure holding of elections within the time-frame given in the Constitution. He further said that Pakistan’s constitution was supreme and sacred and could not be ignored. The President said that as per the Constitution, he was to be a neutral President by all means, and he would always follow the spirit of the Constitution in all matters related to the conduct of official business by setting aside his personal likes or dislikes. He said that spirit behind the caretaker government was to ensure its neutrality so that elections are held in transparent, fair and just manner by giving all political parties level playing field to contest the elections. The President emphasized that this spirit should be reflected in the making of caretaker governments. He said that this was unfortunate that several results in local bodies elections held in Sindh were delayed and reemphasized the use of technology, especially Electronic Voting Machines, to ensure speedy compilation of results and conduct free, fair and transparent elections. The President further said that he had asked time and again the political and other relevant stakeholders that there was a dire need to lower down the political as well as economic temperature which was possible only when all stakeholders and relevant institutions agreed on major issues confronting the nation like political polarization, economy and higher inflation faced by the people. He said that the international economic outlook and our own weaknesses had resulted in a dire economic situation and higher inflation and the conditionalities likely to be imposed by the IMF may further put pressure on the socio-economic wellbeing of the people.The President said that 9th review meeting of the IMF would be held soon with additional conditionalities, adding, despite his worries, he was confident that Pakistan would not default and the economy would regain strength. The President said that during his first meeting with the incumbent Prime Minister, he had advised him to take initiatives in the public interest, which included conservation of electricity, gas and water, which basically did not involve spending a lot of money but only a change in attitudes and securing the willingness of the people to adjust their business hours to minimize use of electricity and powers. He said that President House was completely environment friendly and energy negative as it met all its energy needs using a 1 MW solar power plant installed at the Presidency, besides exporting surplus energy to the national grid. He said that President House had been internationally recognized as an environment friendly Presidential Office and was the world’s first green presidency. He said that the government had yet not indicated its resolve to enter into dialogue and had not made any progress on this matter. The President said that during his talk with the Governor of Punjab, he had told him that no action should be taken outside the confines of the Constitution with regard to holding of elections in the province. Replying to another question, the President mentioned the matter of Arshad Sharif’s killing and said that no journalists or citizens deserved treatment which was beyond the legal, lawful and constitutional safeguards provided to them. “Until someone is convicted by the competent court of law, all citizens enjoy all rights provided to them under the law and constitution,” he added. While replying to a question, the President said that during his association with PTI, he was the one to advise about the creation of a Limited Liability Company for the transfer of donations from abroad which was the only way for the legal transfer of funds. He said that this was absolutely legal and within the ambit of international rules and all such donations were treated in a transparent and legal manner.