On Thursday, President Arif Alvi addressed a joint parliamentary session of the National Assembly, at the start of its second year under the governance of the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf).
Attending the session were: PM Imran Khan, the Navy & Air force Chiefs as well as the Staff Committee’s Joint Chiefs.
President Alvi’s Constitutional Mandated Address
He started off his speech by congratulating the parliament’s lower house on the completion of its initial year under the governance of the PTI, whilst the opposition protested loudly, targeting PM Khan.
Situation in Occupied Kashmir
President Alvi said that with the revocation of the special autonomy of Kashmir, India was violating its own constitution and the Simla Agreement in occupied Kashmir taking illegal action.
He stated that the government had success when this issue was raised within the Security Council of the UN as well as other platforms.
He added the UNSC session regarding this issue, after 50 years, is evident of the government’s achievement, although India had tried its best in preventing this.
He extended his appreciation to other friendly countries, particularly China, which understood the graveness of the Kashmiri issue and raised the issue in the United Nations. He congratulated PM Khan for his successful visit to America.
The president mentioned further that Pakistan will always be supportive of its Kashmiri brethren and will continuously offer moral support to the Kashmiri population.
He pointed out that the illegal actions of India within the region is a threat to peace. The warmongering of India was always met with Pakistan’s openness to dialogue.
He mentioned that India has extended ceasefire transgressions at the LoC (Line of Control). India was always supporting terrorism in Pakistani territory and mentioned Kulbushan Jadhav confessing to be a serving officer who was on a mission to incite tensions within Balochistan.
He concluded on the Kashmiri issue by saying the world must acknowledge the fact that a ‘fascist party’, the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is ruling India.
The Government’s performance, development and Economy
The president announced that the first state which issues a charter of human rights, is Madina and added his appreciation that PM Khan is monitoring the performance of all the ministry’s himself.
He expressed his admiration for the initiative of The Citizen’s Portal and added he hopes it will progress.
He emphasized the importance of moving to an economic system based on technology to develop the economy.
He said the promotion of the IT sector is important, whilst the youth should be provided with both IT & AI training. IT development will result in a stronger democracy.
He acknowledged the increase in exports, whilst the declination in imports resulted in a decreased current deficit, whilst foreign reserves had risen during the previous year.
President Alvi accentuated that all businesses should be documented which will prevent smuggling and suggested the simplification of tax forms.
He stated the country’s economy was damaged by the lack of accountability. He added, corruption eats away any nation’s roots and Pakistan had suffered because of this.
Whilst members of the opposition were protesting loudly on a continuous basis, he told them to go on with the noise, whilst also paying attention to his speech.
He said that concrete measures must be taken by the government in controlling the population in which the media can assist in a great way.
He required religious leaders as well as the citizens to contribute in encouraging awareness.
The president applauded the performance of the judiciary during the previous year and lauded the implementation of model courts and the prompt disposal of cases.
He added the government must make sure the Ehsas programme stays transparent. Women will have the same representation within the Ehsas programme. Legislation should be put in place, ensuring women will inherit their rightful portion.
The building of homes for homeless citizens is admirable, whilst expressing his hope that completion will be as soon as possible.
President Alvi pointed out the young people’s proportion within the population which is substantial, mentioning the Kamyab Jawan-Programme would assist them to be economically independent.
The electronic wallet as well as payment options will be initiated to enable people to pay small amounts via their mobile phones, resulting in simplifying documentation.
He added that disabled people should also be included in Pakistan’s economic system.
He addressed climate change which affects the country in an adverse way, adding that trees will be planted by the government, whilst the minimising of pollution will also be taken care of.
President Alvi stated that the country’s atomic weapons serve as a deterrent to the evil plans of its enemies. He also commended Pakistan’s forces who showed their caliber, whilst fighting terrorism for a long period.
Pakistan’s involvement in the Afghanistan war cost the country as stated by PM Khan because it generated extremist thinking.
Pakistan’s economy was burdened due to the provision of refuge to the Afghanistan people as a sign of hospitality.
Alvi further stated relations between Pakistan & Afghanistan are of a historic nature, whilst the relationship between Pakistan & China is vital. Economic development will be promoted by the CPEC in the country.
He mentioned the fact that the Chinese took substantial measures against corruption, whilst experiencing tough opposition; the Pakistani government should act in a similar way.
The president announced relations between Pakistan and Iran are progressing, whilst having positive ties with Turkey. He expressed his appreciation towards Turkey for supporting the country in difficult times.
Freedom of Speech
President Alvi stated the media is the country’s 4th pillar. He expressed the Pakistan government’s wishes for its media to always play a positive part in its society.
He said the government should put a substantial social media policy in place which can fight against disinformation, fake news & misinformation and concluded on this issue saying total freedom of speech exists in Pakistan.
Protest of the Opposition
During an interview with Dawn on Wednesday, the leaders of Pakistan’s two key opposition parties, PPP and PML-N said a combined opposition meeting will be held prior to the starting of the session.
According to them they will be using their right to protest about the President’s appointment of 2 members, they deemed to be unconstitutional, of the ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan) as well as not issuing a production order regarding arrested lawmakers.
Syed Naveed Qamar, of the PPP said the government will not experience smooth procedures in the joint sitting.
Marriyum Aurangzeb, information secretary of the PML-N said to Dawn the current government has the habit to create problems for itself. She stated the government’s had done it again by exercising illegitimate appointments within the ECP.
However, she stated thus far no production orders were issued by the NA speaker for the opposition members who were arrested. These orders would allow these members to participate in the joint sitting. Aurangzeb stated each member of parliament has the right to be present at the joint sitting.
Currently, six members of the opposition are held in NABs (National Accountability Bureau) & more law enforcement agencies due to corruption charges.
The arrested parliament members include: PPP: Asif Ali Zardari; PML-N: Khawaja Saad Rafique, Shahid Khawan Abbasi & Rana Sanaullah Khan. Waziristan’s 2 independent MNA’s: Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir.
Enlarged images of Sanaullah & Abbasi were placed on empty chairs by the PML-N during the joint parliament sitting.