President addresses joint session of Parliament

Islamabad: President Mamnoon Hussain on Thursday while addressing a joint session of Parliament to mark the beginning of the ruling party’s final year in government has congratulated the nation on the continuation of the political process in the state.

“For the progress and development of our nation, the political process should be freed from personal interests,” he said.

Speaking about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the president said: “For the last several decades, illogical policies have spoiled our precious resources. Our new state-friendly policies, connecting the region through CPEC and power generation projects are the result of a realization that past policies have greatly damaged the country,” adding that CPEC will bring progress and development for the entire region.

Underscoring the increased per capita income, Pakistan has become one of the 25 largest economies of the world, and all economic indicators are positive, President said during his address.

Talking about Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan, he said that the government has allocated significant funds to bring these areas on a par with other parts of the country.

Discussing the ongoing power-crisis in the country, the president said that a lot of work needs to be done in this regard. He added that he had suggested last year utilizing Gilgit-Baltistan’s resources in connection with production of electricity. The president said that infrastructure should be built to generate electricity from under-construction dams in the area and supply it to the national grid.

The president also highlighted the issue of Kashmir and bilateral relations between Pakistan and India.

Terming Kashmir as the incomplete agenda of the partition of the subcontinent, the president said: “India has become a major obstacle for durable peace in the region.”

“Instead of positively responding to Pakistan’s peace efforts, India sent Kulbhushan Yadhav, terrorists and other spies,” he added.

The president also condemned the May 31 bombing in Afghanistan, saying that the two countries should work towards sustainable peace in the region. Discussing Pak-US relations, the presidents noted that the ties “are of significant importance.”

“We intend to further strengthen our relations with the rising economies of the world,” he added. He said that the country’s recent achievements in terms of foreign relations are a positive sign.

Taking about Pakistan Army’s sacrifices, the president said, “Operations like Zarb-e-Azb, Raddul Fasad will be executed successfully and strengthen the country further.”

President Hussain also stressed the need to devise a new narrative for the nation to counter the terrorism.

Although protests were in full swing during the earlier part of the president’s speech, the assembly hall quietened down halfway through after opposition lawmakers walked out.

From the beginning, the opposition went all-out to disrupt the president, with some lawmakers whistling, others sloganeering, and still more thumping their desks as shouts of “Go Nawaz Go” and “traitor” rang out in Parliament.

The opposition’s main contention is the government’s refusal to broadcast the opposition’s budget speeches live on PTV.

PML-N leaders, including the prime minister; however appeared determined to ignore the protests and sporadically expressed their support for the president by rapping their desks.

Leader of the Opposition Khurshid Shah told media outside Parliament that the opposition had unanimously decided to boycott the president’s speech.

“The opposition is clear that the rulers themselves are behind Nehal Hashmi, they are scapegoating him just like they had done Tariq Fatmi,” Shah said.
“We have been observing for the last several years that the president does not address the nation on national issues,” he said.

“The president never focused on major issues like corruption and terrorism. More recently, Fata has emerged as an issue. It is related to the president but he does not pay attention to it. A mockery has been made of Fata,” he added.

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