ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday recounted the PTI government’s performance over the past two years in his address to a joint session of the Parliament, praising Prime Minister Imran Khan for withstanding pressure over the coronavirus strategy.
PM Imran — who met National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser shortly before the session started — was also present in the House as were Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Raza Rabbani, Mushahidullah Khan, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Maulana Asad Mehmood, and Sardar Ayaz Sadiq.
Top Opposition leaders Shehbaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, however, were not present nor was BNP-M leader Akhtar Mengal due to having contracted the coronavirus.
Members of the Opposition parties protested and chanted slogans against the PTI government while the JUI-F staged a walkout shortly after the session commenced.
In his speech, Alvi congratulated the House for completing two years, saying he was honoured to be speaking there for the third time. He also lauded the PTI government for its performance, saying he would present its wins to the House.
“Pakistan is at that point where it should be reviewed what has been done so far, what should have been done, and what should be done in the future,” he said.
The nation has had three lesson in the past, he added, noting that no chance should be wasted to remind the people of Pakistan of what they have learnt and what they have achieved, and how they are on the way to becoming a great country.
“We all collectively fought terrorism. Pakistan is the only nation that fought terrorism,” he added, congratulating the politicians and armed forces for the “win” for the country.
“We also provided home to the 3.5 million Afghan refugees, we welcomed them with open hearts, and no politician or government spoke ill of them,” he added.
The president highlighted how “100 refugees were stranded in the Mediterranean” after “global powers that lectured us on refugees refused to let them in”.
“Pakistan set up an example, Pakistan told the world how it lectured us but showed how we welcomed the [Afghan] refugees,” he added.
Alvi also listed a third victory — the battle against extremism. “The importance of this one is even more considering what’s going on in our east-side neighbouring country, where extremism is rising,” he explained.
He underlined how when the incumbent government came into power, there was “a huge burden of debts, corruption was rife, and the economy was on a downtrend”.
“The first year, I, too, was worried; people advised me to sign a deal with the IMF [International Monetary Fund] or ask for assistance from friendly nations.
“But whatever we decided has led to positive effects on our economy,” he added.
The president lamented how the situation at present was such that “good news is not promoted”.
“Our nation is young. Instead of giving it strength, there’s more talk in the media and elsewhere of what it didn’t do. [This leads to] depression being created that a nation that should be growing ends up losing motivation.
“This is a major injustice and I challenge you here that this is the time when you tell the nation to rise up and stand up, instead of telling it that it won’t be able to do so,” he said.