Text of President address to joint sitting of Parliament

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ISLAMABAD, Jun 1 (APP): Following is the text of
President Mamnoon Hussain address to joint sitting of the
Parliament on Wednesday.
“Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Raheem”
* Mian Raza Rabbani, Chairman Senate,
* Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Speaker National Assembly,
* Members of Parliament and
* My Dear Countrymen!

Assalam-o-Alaikum!
I congratulate you on the successful completion of the third
and beginning of the fourth parliamentary year. The political
progression during the last three years is testimony that the
political system has gained the potential to face crises
successfully. It signifies that the nation is now convinced
that the objective of sustainable development and stability is
not possible without democracy. This is a great leap forward
towards political maturity for which the parliament, political
parties and Pakistani nation deserve commendation. I once
again congratulate you on this important achievement.

During the past three years our democratic march has been
progressing successfully despite ups and downs. It is now the responsibility of each individual, class and institution to
earnestly contribute towards reinforcing this positive trend.

“Accelerate your pace; our destination is not far away”

It is through sustaining and nurturing democracy that we can
serve the nation, raise its standard of living and further
strengthen the system. The governments that ensure rule of
law, economic development and provision of basic needs to the people easily overcome challenges, succeed in stabilizing
democracy and reinforce the relationship between an individual and the state. I am glad to note that both the Government and the Opposition are cognizant of this and are formulating policies in the light of this philosophy thereby strengthening democracy. I would advise that the government, be it of any political party, should formulate policies in accordance with this tested principle so that democracy can take roots and the people may live a happy and prosperous life.

Honourable Members of Parliament!
The progress and prosperity of a nation is measured by its
economic performance. As a veteran political worker and a
student of economics, I have always kept an eye on these
matters. The country has been facing many problems as a result of instability in the region, decades long conflict, terrorism and failure of the past regimes in maintaining financial discipline that alarmingly affected national income and production. The situation required that along with increasing forex reserves and the GDP, inflation and budget deficit should have been reduced. In this context, when we evaluate recent surveys and reports of international institutions, the current situation appears encouraging. According to these reports, our tax system and tax collection has improved, foreign exchange reserves increased, GDP has steadily expanded and this year its growth has been 4.7%, budget deficit reduced, inflation controlled and the rupee stabilized.

These positive indicators will encourage foreign investors and
accelerate our economic progress, which will be further
boosted by CPEC. Such a welcome progress on the economic front is possible only through consistent and realistic policies. I would like continuity in policies in line with ground realities to further stabilize the economy and more steps should be taken to pass on the benefits of improved economic situation to the common man. That is how a good government should be like. The Quaid-i-Azam had said that if we want to see Pakistan as a prosperous country, we would have to ensure welfare of our people, particularly the poor. I have no hesitation in saying that the pivot of Pakistan’s economic policy should be according to the saying of the Quaid-e-Azam.

In the past few years several welfare steps have been taken
which include business opportunities and technical training
for the youth, comprehensive programme for people living below the poverty line, subsidy on essential consumer goods, special package for farmers, educational facilities and stipends for the children belonging to underdeveloped areas, provision of laptops to talented and higher education students and health insurance schemes. I would like that such useful programmes be continued to help the poor and weaker sections of the society to alleviate their difficulties. However criticism on economic policies by the opposition should be welcome and Government should further improve policies in the light of criticism to make them more efficacious.
While being critical, it is also the responsibility of the
opposition to always be mindful of Quaid’s advice that neither the opposition nor any other group has the right to unlawfully impose its will on the elected government. The wisdom behind Quaid’s guiding principle is that obstinacy and personal differences should not override national interests so as not to create social chaos. We have had this unpleasant experience many times in our parliamentary, democratic and political history which we cannot afford to repeat. That is why I insist that at this juncture of our history, the need for national consensus and solidarity is more than ever before and its significance is even greater in the context of CPEC.

There is no weight in the reservations expressed by certain
quarters regarding CPEC as I am aware of the formulation
stages of this mega project, Pak-China agreements and details of planning of different routes. The development work on this most important project for the revival of national economy is going on according to schedule. I am satisfied that concerted efforts have been made to arrive at a national consensus on this matter, which has helped in removing doubts. However, if there still are any apprehensions in minds of even a few, these should also be removed through dialogue so that there is no room for mischief by ill-wishers.

It goes without saying that CPEC is vital for revival of our
national economy and I would like to tell you that our
neighbours, particularly the Central Asian countries, have
already started preparing themselves to benefit from this
Corridor. Many prominent leaders from various countries have personally apprised me that the Corridor will prove to be a golden opportunity for the growth of their economies. This Corridor is the underlying reason behind agreements for the construction of roads for connectivity between Tajikistan and Pakistan. Therefore, I will ask my countrymen:

But now come! For ways are changing in assembly of the earth, And in Orient and in Occident your own age comes to birth! It is therefore an utmost necessity to convert the economic corridor dream into a reality through hardwork. In this respect, a special Security Division has been created for
safety and security of Chinese experts and workers and the
construction of roads is going on in full swing. I hope that
major work on the Western and other routes will be completed by the end of current year, while the whole project will take a little longer.

The schedule of the CPEC clearly shows that this project is
not of benefit to any particular government, political party
or group of politicians but is purely a national project which
will span over many elections and governments till its
completion. Therefore it is responsibility of the nation to
remove every internal and external obstacle in the way of this project, irrespective of any reservation in order to achieve economic self-reliance. Remember; nations that deprive themselves of economic stability due to their internal
differences are always dependent on others while those which strengthen their economies by overcoming their differences stand tall in the comity of nations. They are thus free to shape their destiny and decide their fate and we also need to do the same. For this purpose we need to take more difficult decisions.

At the same time, it is responsibility of the affluent and
business community to fulfill their obligations by paying
their due taxes so that they can pay back for what the country has given them. Vibrant nations fulfill this obligation as their national and social duty. It is also responsibility of
the government to find ways to expand the tax base and devise a pragmatic policy for tax collection. We already have
precedents for better tax collection and can therefore develop better solutions with the help of business community.

Honourable Members of Parliament!
Governments and rulers come and go but the state lasts and
this reality is the foundation of the whole system. Despite
having political differences, we should not allow the economy
to be adversely affected as only a strong economy can ensure a strong Pakistan. Therefore I suggest that the nation should unite on the agenda of economic stability for continuity in economic policies in all situations. I am confident that our political parties and other stakeholders will soon agree upon this national agenda.

Ladies and Gentlemen!
Economic stability and self-reliance should be the goal of
every government. Bold economic decisions and construction of economic corridor are the first steps towards this objective, which when completed will not only enhance regional connectivity but will also help in developing infrastructure.

The objective of economic stability will remain a pipe dream
until we are self-sufficient in energy production. That is why
electricity generation projects have been incorporated in the
Economic Corridor, which are now producing positive results.
Electricity generation has increased and improvement in
distribution system has provided relief to the people. I hope
that by 2018 we will be able to overcome the energy crisis
after completion of all electricity projects.

The depletion of natural gas reserves was one of the main
reasons behind the energy crisis. The LNG import from Qatar
has helped to overcome the declining industrial production,
which has saved public and private investment from sinking
besides providing employment to a large number of people.
However, we should continue to find alternative sources of
energy including hydel, solar, wind and coal etc to fulfill
our energy needs. In this respect, I propose that we should
focus on producing electricity from the water channels in
Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and other Upper areas because
these sources can provide us cheap and abundant electricity.
I emphasise that along with construction of Diamir Basha and Dasu dams, we should also pay attention to smaller hydel projects. In this process, mid-level investors may be induced to participate in such cheap electricity projects and Gilgit Baltistan should be linked to the national grid.

In addition to increase in electricity production, there is
also a need for investment and improvement in the distribution system. If investors are allowed to distribute electricity in their investment area, it will not only attract further investment but will also lead to substantial improvement in the production and distribution of electricity.

Honourable Members of Parliament!
The dream of national development will materialize only when there is peace and conducive business environment in the country so that investors are able to invest without any fear.

I am happy to state that efforts for restoring law and order
in different areas of the country, particularly in Waziristan,
Balochistan and Karachi, have produced satisfactory results
and rate of economic development has improved. I am confident that we will be able to achieve the objectives of Zarb-e-Azb by the end of this year and attain internal peace and security. It is important for us to concentrate on
consolidating the gains made in these operations and the civil
administration should take upon the responsibilities in these
areas to re-establish its writ.

While avoiding repeating bitter mistakes of the past, special
plans should be chalked out for the entire country,
particularly for the affected areas. The affected traders and
investors should be adequately compensated to enable them to recover their losses and start their businesses afresh in
order to restore normalcy in these areas.

For this purpose, it is necessary to give a message of hope
and optimism to the youth so that they come out of their
despondency and bitter past and are ready to shoulder future responsibilities. There is a need to devise sound policies to promote sports at the school, college and national levels to encourage healthy activities to win laurels abroad.

Ladies and Gentlemen!
Pakistan is blessed with a large young population and it is
our responsibility to utilize this asset positively to stop
them from falling prey to negative activities and their
individual aspirations should be in-sync with the national
agenda. This is a delicate job which needs to be accomplished deftly and responsibly. The Government and the Opposition need to work in tandem to utilize potential of the youth to transform them into a national force for overcoming many problems, including extremism.

We should make effort at intellectual level to prevent
extremism for which a working group of impartial and
non-political ulema and social scientists be constituted to
analyze the causes of extremism and suggest a
counter-narrative to the Government to eradicate this menace.

Our religion, moral values and laws of the land have no room
for bloodshed, desecration of holy places and injustice with
minorities. We need to address the misguided people in a
language and tone that they understand to bring about
improvement in the situation and prevent recurrence of such
incidents in the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen!
The nation has demonstrated exemplary courage and resoluteness in the war against terror and values the sacrifices rendered by all men, women, elders and children. I suggest that a national monument should be built in memory of all those who have sacrificed their lives in the war against terror and their names should be engraved on it. There are numerous examples in the world where nations have built symbols to pay tribute to their heroes and such monuments inspire people to defend their homeland.

The nation is grateful to those civilian and military officers
and personnel who have rendered sacrifices in defence of the
country and made the nation proud. No force on earth can
defeat a nation having soldiers imbued with the spirit of
sacrifice and valour. The nation needs to fully stand by all
law enforcing agencies to completely eliminate terrorism and
lawlessness.
We also appreciate the great sacrifices rendered by the
displaced persons of the tribal areas during the war against
terror. After restoration of law and order, the process of
return of our tribal brothers and sisters to their homes is
continuing and it is necessary to accelerate and facilitate
their rehabilitation in a smooth and transparent manner. We
also need to pay tribute and not forget the sacrifices of
those polio workers, police personnel and volunteers who have
laid down their lives in the polio eradication campaign. We
pay homage to these national heroes for sacrificing their
lives in service of the country.

Mr. Chairman and Speaker National Assembly!
I want to convey the sentiments and feelings of the Pakistani
nation to the international community through the auspices of this forum. We want the world to understand that our foreign policy is based on the principle of “peace for development and peaceful neighbourhood”. This policy has been formulated in the light of teachings of the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who said:
“Our foreign policy will be based on friendship and goodwill
with all nations of the world. We do not cherish aggressive
designs against any country or nation. We believe in the
principle of honesty and fair-play in national and
international dealings. Pakistan will never be found lacking
in extending its material and moral support to the oppressed
peoples of the world and in upholding the principles of United
Nations.

In the light of these principles, our foreign policy has been
developed on the following three tenets:-
I. Constructive diplomacy
II. Non-interference
III. Trade promotion and economic cooperation

We aspire for world peace and harmony and are desirous of
friendly relations and peaceful coexistence with the world,
particularly our neighbours. We believe that the main cause of tension in the region is the Kashmir issue, which is an
unfinished agenda of the partition of sub-continent. As long
as this issue is not resolved in accordance with wishes of the
people of Jammu and Kashmir and the UN resolutions, the
problems of this region will remain unresolved. This was also
raised last year at the UN General Assembly that we want an
uninterrupted, sustained and meaningful dialogue with our
neighbours. I regret that our warm and sincere offer has not
been reciprocated in the same spirit. Unfortunately, some
unpleasant incidents took place in the recent past, which have led to further straining of relations. Despite Pakistan’s
continued stress on dialogue, condemnation of the Pathankot incident and offer of joint investigation, the Foreign Secretary level negotiations are held in abeyance, which is a matter of serious concern for us. The situation can only be improved by reciprocating Pakistan’s sincere overtures in the same spirit.

Pakistan is of the view that peace and stability in
Afghanistan is imperative for peace in the region. This
objective can be achieved through reconciliation amongst the stakeholders and there is no military solution to this
problem. After formation of the new government in Afghanistan, Pakistan made sincere efforts with the new leadership to remove past misgivings and pave the way for durable peace. In this regard, at the initiative of Pakistan, the Four-nation Quadrilateral Coordination Group is facilitating talks between the Afghan government and Taliban of which a number of meetings have already been held. Although some recent incidents in Afghanistan have hindered this process, we are still confident that these efforts will succeed. The
14-Country Heart of Asia Conference is also a part of these
efforts in which Pakistan is also playing an important role.

Friendly relations with the Islamic fraternity are the
foundation of Pakistan’s foreign policy and we enjoy very
close and fraternal relations with all the Muslim countries.
Millions of Pakistani expatriates working in these countries
have also greatly contributed in strengthening these
relations. Negotiations are continuing with the Gulf
Cooperation Council (GCC) for cooperation in the manpower, defence and energy sectors, including free trade agreement, which will prove beneficial for mutual trade.

Pakistan has played a positive role for ending tension in the
Middle East in which Turkey has also assisted us and our
efforts have produced positive results. In this backdrop,
visit by Iranian President Dr. Hassan Rouhani was very
important which has given fresh impetus to building warm
relations between the two brotherly countries.

After lifting of sanctions on Iran, a new era of bilateral
relations between the two countries has begun and the volume of bilateral trade is proposed to be $5 billion under the Five-Year Strategic Plan. Additional entry points have also been agreed upon to expand trade and economic relations and Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline will help meet our energy requirements.

Honourable Members of Parliament!
Trade with neighbouring countries can only flourish when our
joint borders are safe, a record of cross border movement is
maintained and any illegal activity at the borders is made
impossible. A system of effective high-tech surveillance is
therefore essential for this purpose. I would like the
government to include it in its priorities.

Our joining the 35-Country Military Coalition under the Saudi
leadership is an important development, which reflects our
determination to end terrorism and extremism for which this
unity is highly important.

A new era of warm and close relations with Central Asian and other neighbouring states has begun, which will encompass not only political, economic, social but also cultural aspects in the coming years. Our relations with these brotherly countries will usher in a new glorious era of development and cooperation. With the help of these sincere friends, Pakistan was able to be admitted to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that has provided a new dimension to our relations with the Russian Federation. A Defence Cooperation Agreement has been recently concluded between Pakistan and Russia and under another cooperation agreement Russia is likely to invest $2 billion for laying Karachi to Lahore Gas Pipeline which is reflective of growing relations between the two countries.

Last year, historic agreements were signed during the visits
to Pakistan of the Presidents of brotherly Islamic countries
Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Lately, CASA-1000 project has
been launched, while the inauguration of TAPI Gas pipeline
project is also another important development in this respect.

These projects, besides meeting our energy needs, will also
help promote regional connectivity, peace, stability and
prosperity. I believe that this new era of relations with
Central Asian countries will prove to be an important
milestone.

Similarly, our relations with Belarus, another important
country from this region, are also growing. The President and
Prime Minister of Belarus have successively visited Pakistan.
I am happy that these visits were reciprocated with similar
warmth and the bilateral relations between the two countries
have produced useful results. Prior to this, I had visited
Azerbaijan, which brought the two countries even closer and
resulted in many cooperation agreements.

During the past few years, our relations with the European
Union and its member countries have grown further in scope.
Pakistan has been granted GSP+ status in the European Union which has boosted our exports. The addition of more topics in the strategic dialogue with the United Kingdom is indicative of growing relations between the two countries.
We have longstanding and historic relations with USA, which
are being further deepened through strategic dialogue. The
economic, energy, education, security and science & technology sectors have also been included in the agenda for
negotiations. Talks between the two countries are continuing
to end misgivings and explore possibilities of further
expanding bilateral cooperation.

Honourable Members of Parliament!
Pakistan strongly believes in nuclear security and is making
serious efforts to convince the international community in
this matter. Pakistan has made state of the art arrangements for safety of its nuclear installations and there is no risk of any untoward incident. The high standard of these arrangements was also acknowledged in the recently held Nuclear Summit in Washington, which is a matter of great pride for us.

Pakistan has played a proactive and dynamic role for peace and progress in the world and promoting regional cooperation. In this respect, Pakistan is playing an active role in Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Economic
Cooperation Organization (ECO), South Asian Association of
Regional Cooperation (SAARC), D-8 Organization and the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD). This clearly reflects that
Pakistan is always ready to partake in the efforts aimed at
progress and prosperity of the people of the region.

It is satisfying to note that the next SAARC Summit will be
held in Pakistan in November this year. We hope that this
Summit of SAARC leaders will further promote harmony and
cooperation in the region.

Honourable Members of Parliament!
The foundation of a successful foreign policy is laid on
national unity, solidarity, way of life, grooming and
upbringing of the future generations. Our prestige will rise
in the comity of nations if we could improve upon certain
affairs by taking cognizance of these important aspects of
life.

Allama Iqbal has said that:-

The individual is firm by nation’s coherence, otherwise
nothing The wave is only in the ocean, and outside it is
nothing I feel that in our national life we are becoming careless in matters of unity and discipline. In this regard we sometimes witness painful examples in our individual lives and important and sensitive national affairs which is an undesirable tendency.

The tradition of respecting women is an undisputed and
recognized virtue in Muslim societies but unfortunately we
have recently observed some very disturbing incidents. This
unpleasant situation should be arrested forthwith and it needs to be treated more as a moral issue rather than political.

Therefore, we have to deal with it in the context of values
irrespective of any political consideration.
Women are an invaluable part of society and it is not possible to achieve durable progress without bringing them into the mainstream of national life which is why the state has taken effective steps to empower them through legislation. I believe that women should be made part of the workforce to accelerate the pace of development and primary education should be completely handed over to them.

Ladies and Gentlemen!
Quaid-i-Azam was desirous of instituting an educational system through which our children can harmonize our history and culture with the modern world and bring glory to Pakistan in the comity of nations. Even though education has been devolved to the provinces after the 18th amendment, yet there is need to harmonize the provincial and regional education systems for the promotion of collective national and religious objectives and values. I have brought this matter into notice of the Prime Minister and Ministry of Education and Professional Training is now working on this. I hope that these efforts will produce significant results which will nourish educational and cultural values and strengthen the tradition of mutual respect and rule of law.

It is a historic reality that no nation can make any positive
impression on the international community unless each and
every individual believes in the rule of law. Quality
education and training inculcates this virtue in the character
of a nation, while the exemplary conduct of the responsible
and influential persons provides it further impetus. Nations
that respect the law and adhere to discipline pave the way to
progress and eminence.

History tells us that when a nation lacks respect for law, it
loses self-respect and sense of ownership of the country,
while the nations that inculcate respect for law and
discipline in their lives excel in the world. By the grace of
Allah almighty, the Pakistani nation has made great
achievements in its short history which are acknowledged by
the world. But I have observed that we are careless in the
matter of respect for law. I hope that not only the
government, opposition and political parties but all segments
of society will play their role in this regard as a national
duty. This will elevate our status and respect in the
international community so that we could quickly tread the
path of development and stability.

Agriculture plays an important role in national development
and our hardworking farmers help meet food requirements of the country but global climate change has adversely affected farming. I urge our agriculture and climate scientists to guide farmers in the light of their research and international trends so that our agriculture sector is least affected by climate change. In view of the importance of this sector, the government should continue to take appropriate steps towards solving the difficulties faced by farmers and growers.

Effective population planning is essential to accelerate the
pace of development and meet economic targets so that progress
could be attained in different fields of life. Ineffective
population planning and inaccurate population statistics lead
to further complications. I want the concerned departments to focus on this important issue so that there is no impediment in our march towards progress.

I believe that we had a magnificent beginning and the world
was expecting that Pakistan would emerge as a shining star.
Unfortunately due to certain reasons, we unluckily drifted
away from our goal. In those testing times, respect for law
dwindled and corruption seeped into the society, which stunted national growth. I am happy that there has been a realisation against this abhorrent social and national crime and every member of society wants to put an end to this bane. I am confident that we will be triumphant in this resolve and by eliminating corruption, Pakistan will continue its journey towards development and excellence.

Ladies and Gentlemen!
In Surah Baqarah, Allah says:-

“And Allah chooses for His Mercy, whomsoever He pleases, and Allah is of Exceeding Bounty.”

I am closely following the developments in Pakistan, the
region and the world and I see the dawn of progress, peace and stability on the horizon of Pakistan. God has been kind to us and new possibilities for progress and prosperity of the
homeland are being created in which CPEC project stands out the most. Therefore I would advise my countrymen not to be despondent and fulfill their responsibilities for the
country’s development with new passion and vigor. Do not allow any divisions in your ranks and work hard in unison. We will soon regain our rightful status in the comity of nations. God Willing.

“Quicken your pace just a little; journey’s end is not far
off”

May Allah protect us all! Ameen!
Pakistan Paindabad.”