ISLAMABAD - The parties across the political divide voiced mixed reaction on President Asif Ali Zardari’s address to the parliament, with treasury benches portraying it as a landmark achievement and opposition parties terming it a joke with the masses living in miserable condition.

Commenting on president’s speech in which he shared ‘achievements’ of PPP-led government, Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that over a period of eight years a dictator paralysed the country on gunpoint and now Zardari has left no stone unturned to damage the country.

“I am surprised how he was talking about achievements of present government as it seems he (Zardari) was talking about some other country. The country we live in is in a state of misery,” he said, adding that coalition partners of PPP were also equally responsible for this worsening situation of country. “Allied parties in the incumbent government are equally involved in wheeling-dealing.“

Nisar said he was also surprised to listen to Zardari’s remarks about Balochistan. “Government did nothing on this important issue but Zardari claimed that government did a lot for Balochistan.“

When asked about the retirement of ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Nisar remarked in an ironic way that an ‘Inqalabi’ (revolutionary) party has been orphaned after his retirement. However, he did not name any political party and said he did not have any personal differences with the outgoing ISI chief.

To a question about opposition parties’ protest on presidential address, Ch Nisar said that they considered it would be a joke to listen to him silently. All opposition forces  PML-N, JUI-F, PPP-S, the independents and the likeminded  registered their strong protest on president’s address, he said. “A joint (opposition) strategy will be evolved on various issues,” he said, adding that opposition would continue to play its true role in future.

Referring to Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), he said those raising the issue of extortion a day before were silent on the day of president’s address. When asked to name the party involved in this menace, he said, “Everyone knows which political party is behind the extortions.“

Sharing his views on president’s address, MQM senior leader Dr Farooq Sattar said it was a good development as an elected president has addressed for the 5th time to the parliament consecutively. However, he emphasised the need for taking practical steps so that the fruit of democracy could reach the common man. Farooq Sattar also asked President Zardari to implement in letter and spirit his assurances on ending the extortion phenomenon.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) spokesman said that real picture of the country was not exhibited in the presidential speech. He said that situation of price hike, Balochistan issue and other matters are getting worse with every passing day. Talking to media, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazalur Rahman said there was no harm in conducting snap polls in the country.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that fifth consecutive address to the parliament by an elected president was a landmark achievement. He said that opposition parties should not have staged protest during the presidential address.

ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan also said that opposition parties should not have walked out of the house. “Before criticising anyone it is necessary to listen to him first.“ ANP chief said that president’s speech reflected allied parties’ collective thought. “ANP was taken into confidence before this address, so we welcome his speech.“

Pakistan Muslim League-Q senior leader Faisal Saleh Hayat also termed president’s address as a landmark achievement. “President Asif Ali Zardari has given a roadmap for the 5th year and his plans for future are important.“