President’s address to parliament
Last parliamentary year of govt begins; Nawaz says opposition has created show but
govt will continue to work: Mamnoon says political process should be above individual interests
ISLAMABAD: Amidst a huge protest by the opposition parties, having placards saying ‘Go Nawaz Go’ and whistling by opposition members, President Mamnoon Hussain on Thursday urged that the political process should be above individual and parochial interests for the sake of higher objectives of national progress and prosperity.
Addressing the joint session of parliament to mark the beginning of the new and last parliamentary year, the president pointed out that difference of opinion on the process of development and rights on the national resources was not unusual. “However, it is also imperative to block the avenues of chaos emerging from difference of opinion through a well-thought-out strategy,” he added.
He said this would help thwart all efforts to make the process of national development controversial. He referred to the steps being taken to bring Balochistan and Fata into the national mainstream and said these were part of efforts to include the marginalised classes in the development process. He hoped that all segments of the society would participate in the task of national reconstruction with the same spirit.
He said trade and investment friendly policies and CPEC and power projects were manifestation and components of the plan to exploit precious resources for welfare of the people. He proposed the government, the opposition and all the political parties should declare the Vision-2025 as a national plan through consensus so that process of welfare of public was not hampered at any cost. He said there was also a need to check the rising rate of population growth to ensure the optimal use of resources. He said as a result of prudent economic policies of the government, economic indicators were healthy and this was also acknowledged by the State Bank and international economic institutions.
He said forward looking nations invested heavily in human resources and infrastructure for sustainable development. He appreciated the programmes aimed at bettering the lot of the young but called for more programmes to ensure effective training and creation of maximum employment opportunities. Referring to the problems being faced in exports, he asked the Ministry of Commerce for a permanent and effective solution to the issue with the help of experts.
The president said Pakistan's defence production sector had performed noticeably better and it could capture the attention of the prospective buyers in the market. “There is a need to use modern tools of marketing to reap the maximum benefits from this capability,” he maintained. He said there was also need to undertake serious efforts for poverty alleviation and improving the administration of health facilities. “More hospitals and health units should be established to cater for the growing population,” he added.
The members from the opposition parties registered a strong protest during the speech of President Mamnoon while raising anti-government slogans focusing on ‘Go Nawaz Go’. Some members prominent among them Jamshed Dasti also continued blowing whistles which also caught the attention of dignitaries sitting in the VIP visitors galleries.
The opposition members, while raising slogans, were also carrying placards inscribed with the demand of resignation from Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. The prime minister in order to hear the speech of the president had to use a headphone as the full-throated sloganeering continued without any pause.
Some members, including Jamshed Dasti, Amir Dogar, Dr Arif Alvi, Babar Awan and others, who were carrying placards came in front of the Speaker’s dais. Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, the lone member of his Muslim League, was also prominent during the protest.
Earlier, as soon as the national anthem ended, the opposition members raised the slogan of ‘Go Nawaz Go’. However, the start of recitation from the Holy Quran followed by Naat silenced them for a few minutes.
President Mamnoon, who also criticised the opposition for what he said creating hurdles in the way of development activity, showed strong nerves and continued his speech without any break during the protest.
Halfway to the president’s speech, the opposition members walked out of the House. The opposition parties, prior to the start of the joint session which marked the start of the sitting assembly’s last parliamentary year, held a consultative meeting to adopt a strategy for the proceedings.
Services chiefs, provincial governors and chief ministers and ambassadors of different countries posted in Islamabad also witnessed the proceedings of the joint sitting. Strict security arrangements were also made in and outside the Parliament House on the occasion of the address of the president to the Joint Session.
The Joint Session has now been prorogued. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the government would complete its tenure of five years despite all challenges.
The premier held an informal talk with the media after participating in the Joint Session of parliament and said the opposition created a show as always but their mission would continue. He said that the people were watching the opposition’s behaviour and the government’s work.
The prime minister said that the address of President Mamnoon Hussain was positive and good. Earlier, the PM looked in a pleasant mood when he entered parliament and shook hands with members. Nawaz Sharif remained calm despite the opposition’s slogans and met the members of the coalition parties after the speech of President Mamnoon Hussain.