ISLAMABAD, (SANA): President Asif Ali Zardari has said that there is need to take hard decisions without delay to address challenges facing the country and carry forward the fruits of democracy to the grass-roots. He said that the drone strikes are the violation of national sovereignty and also violation of international laws, adding that these attacks should immediately be stopped. He said that Kashmir dispute should be resolved according to the wishes of the Kashmiris. He said Pakistan did not want armed race in the region, adding that the government should increase trade with India while improving relations.
He said putting the constitution of country at abeyance is treason, adding that the parliament and government should hold accountability of constitution breachers. He said that there s no room for anti-democratic forces in country. He said sovereignty of the country would be defended at all costs. President Zardari hoped that Nawaz Sharif will come up with the expectations of the masses. He said all institutions should work under their constitutional limits.
He was addressing the joint session of the Parliament to mark beginning of the first parliamentary year in Islamabad this afternoon.
The President said there is also need to learn truth about past mistakes in order not to repeat them and this calls for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He said we cannot afford confrontation and need reconciliation.
President Zardari expressed the confident that as democracy takes roots, we will rise to the dream that our founding fathers had about Pakistan.
The President congratulated once again the new elected Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the Speaker and the members of the National Assembly and hoped that they will rise to the expectations of the people.
He also congratulated people of Pakistan for their participation in the elections and said they demonstrated courage in defying threats by the enemies of democracy.
The President said there is no place for dictators in today’s Pakistan and he salutes the people for their courage. They have spoken through their vote and their voice has been heard. It has been demonstrated by the smooth transfer of power.
He commended all political parties and their leaders for accepting the poll results despite reservations.
The President said together we have fulfilled our promise of smooth transition of power from one democracy to another democracy. This democratic, peaceful transition marks the success of a prolonged struggle.
He said it is a matter of great satisfaction and pride that the Parliament purged the Constitution of undemocratic articles. It brought about the first major constitutional reform in more than three decades. In the past, amendments in constitution were made to promote the personal interests of dictators but the latest ones are meant to strengthen democracy or empower the people.
He said the outgoing Parliament made the Constitution truly democratic, restored provincial rights, abolished the Concurrent Legislative List and transferred all subjects to the provinces, banished Article 58(2)/B and strengthened Council of Common Interests. Oil, gas and natural resources within a province now belong jointly to the province and the Federal Government.
The President said that let no one think of subverting the Constitution. The suspension and abrogation of the Constitution is an act of high treason and no court shall validate it.
He said let us renew our commitment to the principles of democracy and the rule of law and vow to uphold supremacy of the Constitution.
President Zardari said each pillar of the state must operate within its constitutional limits and no organ of the state should trespass into the domain of others.
He said the democratic forces should join hands to face daunting challenges. There are economic hardships, power shortages, rising militancy and extremism and we have to find solutions to these problems. Work on Bhasha Dam and thar Coal need to be stepped up. The President said we are faced with a huge task but expressed the confidence that the new Government will overcome the challenges.
He said peace and reconciliation in Balochistan must receive high priority; the issues of missing persons be addressed on priority and the cycle of poverty must be broken.
He said women and minorities are the most vulnerable groups and efforts to protect and empower them need to be kept up. There is also need to further strengthen interfaith harmony and prevent misuse of blasphemy law for settling personal and political scores.
The disabled and special people need to be integrated in the mainstream of national life. The President called for a mechanism for transparent accountability of all.
He said militancy, extremism and terrorism pose the great threat to our national security. We are ready to make peace with those willing to give up violence but we should also be ready to use force against those who challenge the writ of the state. He said the Government will not allow the use of our soil for terrorist activities against any other country. We will also not allow anyone to violence our sovereignty and sovereignty of the country must be protected at all costs and it will be.
The President called for measures for the welfare of overseas Pakistanis and taking forward the process of devolution to local bodies. He said the Government is committed to upholding freedom of the media.
President Zardari said Pakistan seeks a conducive and stable regional environment. Relationship with China remains the cornerstone of our foreign policy and we are eager to further consolidate ties of Central Asian Republics and Turkey. He said Pakistan looks forward to peace and stability in Afghanistan.
He said Pakistan wants to improve relations with India, wants a peaceful settlement of water issues, and seeks a peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes of Kashmiri people. He said we believe in dialogue to resolve issues.
The President said drone attacks are a serious violation of our sovereignty and international law. They are also counterproductive and unacceptable. Later, the joint session of the parliament was prorogued.