Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday hit back at President Arif Alvi, accusing him of being partisan and following the dictates of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party instead of remaining neutral as the head of the state.
His comments came two days after President Alvi in a letter on Friday accused the premier of using disproportionate force against politicians, political workers and journalists in recent clashes with former prime minister Imran Khan's PTI.
The president, who was a member of Khan's party before assuming the office, had also asked Sharif to direct all authorities to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in holding the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections as per the orders of the Supreme Court.
In his five-page letter to President Alvi, Sharif said that he was writing to “set the record of the government straight” and bring the latter’s “partisan attitude” on record.
He said Alvi’s communication in parts read like “a press release of the opposition political party PTI whose one-sided, anti-government views you continue to openly espouse, notwithstanding your constitutional oath/office of President ''.
He said that the president on several occasions violated his oath, including the order of the dissolution of the National Assembly in April last year on direction of then prime minister Imran Khan, and also his failure to discharge his constitutional duty to give oath to Sharif on his election as the prime minister.
"Despite the foregoing and several other instances, where you actively worked towards undermining a constitutionally elected government, I have made all-out efforts to maintain a good working relationship with you. However, the contents of your letter, its tone, and language have compelled me to respond to it," he stated in the letter.
Sharif said that actions by the law enforcement agencies were in accordance with the law.
“Regrettably and ostensibly due to your party allegiance, you have failed to note the sheer violation of laws, contumacious disregard of court orders, attacking the law enforcement agencies, damaging public property, attempts to create chaos, civil and political unrest, and in short, to bring the country to the brink of economic default and civil war by PTI,” he said.
He said the PTI’s complete disregard of law tarnished the image of Pakistan in the international community and cast negative repercussions on the future of democracy and state of human rights.
He also complained that Alvi as president had not once said anything regarding the conduct of Khan for his “aggressive, rather militant, attitude of a political order in complete defiance of court orders”.
“Regrettably again, you never raised your voice or shared your concerns in the manner that you have in your letter, in the past while the PTI was in power,” he said.
He further stated that Alvi’s reference regarding meaningful consultation between the president and prime minister was “out of place”.
"Mr President, in the exercise of your functions, you must act on and in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet or the Prime Minister under clause (1) of Article 48," he wrote.
Talking about the election in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, he said that the federal government provided every support to the ECP which is an autonomous body and free to decide about election.
Sharif also said that he was “fully aware” of his duties, asserting that his government was fully committed to preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution but would not allow anyone to violate the law or create unrest.