President Mamnoon Hussain on Thursday addressed a joint session of Parliament to mark the beginning of the ruling party’s final year in government amidst noisy protest from the opposition.
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.
Earlier, a source in the Presidency had told that President Mamnoon Hussain was well-prepared to face “any untoward situation during the joint session” and he would continue his speech, even if opposition members tried to disrupt it.
“The president is a head of the state and he should not be targeted for political point-scoring,” the source said.
The president’s speech
In his address, President Hussain congratulated the nation on the continuation of the political process.
“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 realisation that past policies have greatly damaged the country.”
The president added that CPEC will bring progress and development for the entire region.
“With increased per capita income, Pakistan has become one of the 25 largest economies of the world, and all economic indicators are positive.” President Hussain 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 to utilise 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 Jadhav, 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.