ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain addressed a joint session of Parliament on Thursday, marking the advent of third parliamentary year of the PML-N government.
“This year has been better than the previous years. The situation in Karachi and Balochistan has improved as compared to previous years,” he said.
The president touched upon various sectors where he felt the government consistently worked, over the last two years, to achieve better targets. Among them was the fight against polio.
“In the past few years polio has been on the rise, and we are working hard to eradicate it. It is unfortunate that [travel] restrictions were made on Pakistan regarding polio.”
“Polio cannot be eliminated through restriction, but is possible through sympathetic efforts,” he said.
“I want to shed light on the fact that our children are dear to us and will not let them lose their lives.”
He talked about the country’s security situation and said the operation in tribal areas will continue till the elimination of the last terrorist.
“Peace will be restored in Pakistan under any circumstance,” Mamnoon said.
He was of the view that an improvement in Pakistan’s situation was evidenced by the restoration of international cricket in Pakistan, saying “In the future, apart from cricket, other sports will also be seen on the home ground.”
Speaking about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, he said, “We will have to work very hard to complete the economic corridor project.”
“No part of the country will be deprived … The economic corridor can change the fate of the region,” he added.
“Pak-China friendship will be an example to the world,” the president said.
“We have hope India will resolve the Kashmir issue in light of UN resolutions and according to wishes of the Kashmiri people,” he said, emphasising on the need for peace and stability in the region. “Friendly relations with India based on equality are a priority.”
“Relations with the United States are based on mutual respect and trust,” he said, calling the US an ally in the war against terrorism.
The president expressed concerns over the effects of a shortage of water, saying “Being an agricultural country, water is our fundamental right, but we are aware that a shortage of water can be a great calamity.”
He also noted that the Quaid Solar Park project ─ as well as several others ─ have been initiated for power generation.
“Along with electricity production, we will focus on the improvement of the transmission system as well,” Mamnoon said.
Speaking about the need for greater revenue generation for the economy, the president said, “Steps will have to be taken to expand the tax net.”
“All policies should be formulated for the public on the principles laid down by the Quaid-e-Azam.”
The president also expressed satisfaction that the performance of both parliamentary houses last year was better than it was in the past.
The session is being attended by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the provincial governors and chief ministers, federal ministers and the three services chiefs. Foreign diplomats and representatives of the civil society have also been invited.
Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Zakaullah, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashad Mehmood, and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman were also present at the joint session.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement staged a walk-out from the joint session of the parliament.
Under Article 56 of the Constitution, every parliamentary year begins on March 17 and the president has to address a joint sitting of both houses of parliament on its commencement.
Last year, the president addressed a joint sitting of parliament on June 2.