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April 27, 2014

Journey to democracy has started: Mamnoon

April 27, 2014

LAHORE: President Mamnoon Hussain on Saturday said that the journey, with strong footings, towards real democracy had started and Pakistan would become an important country in the region within five years.
He said this while speaking at the concluding session of the South Asia Labour Conference (SALC) held here at a local hotel on Saturday.
He appealed for greater cooperation in the South Asian region through the Saarc platform and called for an end to the travel restrictions placed on Pakistan by countries dismayed by the polio issue.
In his speech, President Mamnoon Hussain said the country was currently facing challenges, including terrorism and lawlessness, but it had great potential in leading the Saarc region in the race for economic development.
Addressing Saarc ministers and dignitaries, President Mamnoon Hussain said he was honoured to be a part of the regional collaboration for labour rights. He said it was a day of great hope in the region as it was a beginning in the journey towards mutual cooperation for improving the lives of the poor.
The president said he was impressed by the passion and commitment to labour issues of all the delegates taking part in the conference’s technical sessions and hoped the discussions would be further supplemented by action. He said the South Asian region was united by common values and faced similar challenges, including threats to democracy, dictatorship, governance and justice issues.
Talking to the 300 delegates present on Saturday, he said for decades Pakistan had provided shelter to people fleeing regional conflicts. He said Pakistan had endured natural calamities, extremism and poverty with encouraging resilience. “I am happy to see the joint ministerial statement of South Asia Labour Conference reaffirm the fundamental right to decent living and human values,” said President Mamnoon Hussain on the final day of the conference.
He said further sharing of best labour practices in the Saarc

region would develop human resources and lead to South Asian countries being able to compete with the rest of the world and alleviate regional poverty. President Hussain congratulated the organisers of the South Asia Labour Conference on hosting the first regional labour conference here in Lahore and the Punjab government for the Punjab Labour Policy 2014 to be officially unveiled by CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif on May 1 in a special Punjab Assembly session.
The President of Pakistan placed great emphasis on compliance with international labour laws and standards set by ILO conventions. He said that he was happy to note the enthusiasm of employers present and that the business community of Pakistan could help lift millions of Pakistanis out of poverty.
He thanked the head of cabinet for the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Nicolas Gibert-Morin for the awarding of GSP Plus status to Pakistan and said Pakistan’s textile sector had benefited from the reduced tariffs. He said some elements were wishing to deprive Pakistan of this status, using poor compliance with labour laws as a pretext for their hidden motives.
On the topic of polio vaccination, President Hussain said the travel restrictions placed on Pakistan due to the low polio vaccinations rate by some countries was regrettable as militants in Pakistan’s north had made it difficult for others to administer polio drops.
The president, addressing foreign delegates at the conference, said the country would undergo a positive change within a period of five years.
President Hussain said an economic corridor connecting Tashkent, Kashgar, Karachi to Gwadar, Balochistan would deliver successful results not only to Pakistan and China but to the entire Central Asian region, Russia and the Middle East.
According to the president, Pakistan’s workforce would also benefit from new opportunities. Pakistan’s youth, which comprises 50 percent of the workforce, is a blessing, said President Mamnoon Hussain.
He said the success of the conference was evident by the presence of relevant stakeholders from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Sindh and Balochistan in addition to Prime Minister Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Chaudhry Abdul Majeed during the three days of South Asia Labour Conference.
The president also expressed his hope for a similar conference hosted in another Saarc country in 2015 and a regional community of labourers in South Asia.
The president later presented souvenirs to select Pakistani and foreign delegates in appreciation of their role in the conference.

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