- Opposition disrupts president’s address to Parliament with slogans of ‘Go Nawaz Go’
- President, while condemning Wednesday’s blast in Kabul, says ‘I invite Afghan leadership to resolve our differences’
Members of the opposition on Thursday burst into jeering and chanting slogans against the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as President Mamnoon Hussain began addressing a joint session of Parliament in Islamabad.
During the initial phase of the president’s speech, chants of ‘go Nawaz go’ echoed in the House. The opposition MPs gathered around the chair of Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and raised slogans.
President Mamnoon passed his first political test as he kept his composure throughout his speech.
Addressing the joint sitting of the Parliament at the beginning of the new Parliamentary year, he spoke at length about the country’s foreign relations, the state of economy, pace of development and the need for rising above political differences to jointly work for progress and prosperity of the country.
President Mamnoon Hussain said, “History will remember the performance of this House.”
In difficult times, Parliament has displayed national unity, said the president.
MAMNOON CONDEMNS INDIA:
The president strongly condemned India’s aggressive attitude for its acts of aggression on the Line of Control and termed it “the biggest hurdle in establishing peace and stability in the region.”
He said Pakistan desires to resolve all disputes through dialogue, but pointed out, “It is regrettable that our sincere efforts have not been reciprocated in the same spirit.”
He said the situation has instead been exacerbated by India by promoting subversive acts of espionage and disruption, as was “evident from the arrest and confessional statement of an Indian spy.”
The president reiterated Pakistan’s stance of political, moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri brethren.
He termed the issue of Jammu and Kashmir as part of the unfinished agenda of the partition of the subcontinent, adding holding of the plebiscite under the United Nations was the only solution to Kashmir dispute.
CPEC WILL ENHANCE PROSPERITY:
He mentioned the state of ties with China, India, Afghanistan, Central Asian States, Russia, Turkey and the Islamic world.
“For global peace, stability and progress, Pakistan invites the comity of nations, particularly our neighbours, to agree on the fundamental principle of economic cooperation which can lead to ending of regional tensions,” he said.
He described Pakistan’s relations with China as “exemplary” and said both were consistently enhancing their bilateral cooperation in all walks of life.
He said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would enhance the prosperity of both countries and also of other countries of the region.
“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 realisation that past policies have greatly damaged the country.”
‘WE ARE WITH OUR AFGHAN BROTHERS’:
Condemning Wednesday’s blast in Kabul which left around 90 dead and 300 injured, he said the state and people of Pakistan share the pain of their Afghan brothers and sisters.
“I invite the Afghan leadership to resolve our differences. We are with our Afghan brothers shoulder to shoulder in their time of need,” he said further.
He added that regional stability was linked with peaceful Afghanistan, and recounted Pakistan’s efforts on the issue, including facilitation of Murree Talks and supporting Heart of Asia.
He mentioned the substantive assistance Pakistan had been extending to war-hit Afghanistan besides educational scholarships to thousands of Afghan students.
He said Pakistan had great expectations to meet its energy needs through the projects with the Central Asian States like TAPI, CASA-1000 and hoped for dedicated efforts for their timely completion.
“Being the land of Holy Places, every Pakistani has great respect for Saudi Arabia, whereas our relations with all other countries of the Muslim world are also embedded in love and sincerity,” he remarked.
He said after many ups and downs in the US ties, Pakistan had established fresh contact with the new US administration that would pave the way for further expansion of the bilateral relations.
President Mamnoon also expressed satisfaction over Pakistan’s relations with the European Union particularly after the grant of GSP Plus.
He said Pakistan also desired to further cement ties with emerging economies of Southeast Asia, South America and South Africa.
Highlighting Pakistan’s ‘big achievements’ on diplomatic fronts, he said Pakistan successfully hosted ECO and SCO summits.
The president advocated for Pakistan’s strong credentials to be a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group as the country was strictly committed to nuclear proliferation.
The president also urged the government, opposition and all other political parties to declare Vision 2025 as a national plan through consensus to ensure the welfare of the public.
He also called for reforms in the Security Council to make the UN more effective and beneficial international body ensure representation of all states, particularly the smaller ones.
He commended the steps being taken to bring Balochistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in national mainstream and hoped that rising above their vested interests, all segments of society would participate in national reconstruction.
He said connecting Gilgit-Baltistan with national grid would increase power production after completion of Bhasha, Dasu and Bunji dams
President Mamnoon recounted Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war against terrorism, and was hopeful of the success of Operation Raddul Fasaad like Zarb-e-Azb to make Pakistan ‘a cradle of peace.’
Answering a question following the conclusion of the session, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, “Those putting up a circus did what they do, but we will continue to work for the people.”
When asked if the government will be able to complete its five-year term, the premier said “InshAllah [God willing].”
Prior to the session, the PM held a meeting with the president, wherein issues of national importance came under discussion. The prime minister briefed President Mamnoon about the details of the meeting of cabinet’s National Security Committee held on Wednesday.
Apart from members of the Senate, National Assembly, all governors and chief ministers and the services chiefs were in attendance. Moreover, ambassadors of various countries were also invited to witness the session.
Later, the opposition parties staged a walkout from the Parliament.
The 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.
OPPOSITION’S PROTEST AGAINST CoD:
Sindh Governor Muhammad Zubair said opposition’s protest during the presidential address to the joint sitting of the parliament was against the Charter of Democracy (CoD).
Talking to media outside the Parliament House, he said PML-N did not make former president Asif Ali Zardari’s addresses controversial during PPP’s tenure.
“If the opposition has differences with the prime minister then president should not be made controversial,” he proposed.
Meanwhile, Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Chairperson Marvi Memon said President Mamnoon Hussain had presented the true picture of country’s growing economy in his address to the joint sitting of the parliament.
Housing and Works Minister Akram Khan Durrani also appreciated the address of the president.
He said, unfortunately, the opposition again played a negative role and showed that it was not serious in matters of national interest or planning for the progress of the country.