ISLAMABAD - President Arif Alvi on Thursday said all the institutions including the Parliament, judiciary, executive, armed forces and media are on the same page for eradicating corruption, achieving socio-economic justice and to removing hurdles in the way of national development.

The President while addressing the joint session of the Parliament recounted the two-year performance of the present government. The opposition members with the start of the proceedings stood up from their seat in protest. Some of the opposition lawmakers resorted to sloganeering and later they left the house in a protest. The key opposition members including Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, PPP-P Chairman Asif Ali Zardari did not participate in the proceedings. BNP-Mengal chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal, who was tested positive of COVID-19, also avoid participating in proceedings. 

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, KP Governor Shah Farman, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, AJK President Sardar Masood Khan, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Nadeem Raza, Naval Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Air Chief Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, diplomats and other dignitaries were amongst those present in the VVIP galleries.

Dr Alvi, in the absence of opposition lawmakers, delivered uninterrupted speech and congratulated lawmakers for completing two parliamentary years.

“Continuation of democracy and democratic traditions are vital for bright future of the country,” said President, lauding some of the aspects of incumbent government for dealing the challenges. He especially mentioned role of judiciary in provision of early justice and welcomed Supreme Court’s decision on GIDC issue. About government’s strategy to deal coronavirus [COVID-19], he said that initially there was a panic and fear the “people will die in the streets”.

“Across the Muslim world, Taraweeh prayers and daily prayers at mosques were banned [for fear of the virus spreading]. But we worked with our religious scholars and continued with prayers at mosques,” he said mentioning  that present government despite pressure of complete lockdown opted for ‘smart lockdown policy’ which protected lives and livelihoods saying the visionary approach should be appreciated, “ Our policy to check COVID-19 has also been acknowledged by the world community,” he said.

He particularly mentioned role of Ulema in implementation of SOPs and also observed that the attitude demonstrated by the Pakistanis in difficult circumstances left behind the developed nations.

“When there is a will to take care of the vulnerable segment of society, there is success, “he remarked.

Alvi said that now the world was recognising the government’s response to the pandemic. “Today, the world is giving our example. I don’t remember the last time I heard something like that.”

He also touched upon the government’s Ehsaas programme, introduced to provide those most affected by the fallout from the virus with cash stipends. “I commend the premier and the government for standing by their Covid-19 response despite criticism from the opposition.”

About the country’s economy, he said Pakistan’s current account deficit had reduced despite the coronavirus wreaking havoc. “Our ratings by Moody’s and Fitch have improved, showing us that they think the country’s situation looks good.”

It shows that the government’s policies are working, and if the coronavirus had not emerged, it would have managed to take it to new heights, he said.  “Our economy is moving towards stability and success which is obvious from reports of Moody’s and Fitch Ratings which have declared the economic outlook of Pakistan as stable which is good omen for the country,” he said.

He said that current account deficit has come down from 20 billion dollars to three billion dollars while foreign exchange reserves also increased from 8.5 billion dollars to 12.5 billion dollars in the last two years.

He observed that following government’s measures for improvement of the export sector, the export for the month of July have increased the figure of 1.99 billion dollars when compared with corresponding period of the last year.

About Kashmir policy, the President praised Prime Minister’s welcoming statement in support of cause of Palestine while condemning India’s actions in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and also talked about brotherly relations with Saudi Arabia and Turkey and friendly ties with China.

President Alvi welcomed policy statement of the Prime Minister in which he maintained that Pakistan would not recognise Israel till the people of Palestine get their right.

About August 5, 2019 action of India in IOK strongly, he condemned Indian efforts to change the population ration in occupied territory by trying convert majority into minority while following footprints of Israel.

He also appealed to the European Union and human rights organizations to play their role in ending military siege in IOK and demanded of the United Nations get its resolutions for plebiscite in Kashmir implemented.

He said the new political map of Pakistan was of utmost importance as that it verifies the two-nation ideology and that Kashmir is jugular vein of Pakistan as per vision of the Founder of the country. “We are also thankful to our friendly countries particularly Turkey, Malaysia, Azerbaijan and China for condemning Indian actions in IOK and supporting Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir,” the President said.

About efforts being made Pakistan and China for regional peace and stability, he condemned India’s aggressive designs. The President also expressed this thanks to the Chinese leader and people for extending their support to Pakistan to defence and economic sectors particularly the CPEC. “I am especially thankful to China for extending their support in the wake of spread of COVID-19 in the shape of sending medical experts and equipment and looking after Pakistani students trapped in their country,” he said. He maintained that Pakistan desires to further improve relations with Saudi Arabia in different sectors while mentioning that Pakistan is thankful to the brotherly Muslim country for its support in difficult times.

The President said that Pakistan also wanted peace and friendly relations with neighbouring countries like Afghanistan expressed the that peace agreement between the United States and Taliban would result in long-lasting peace in the warn-torn country. He said the PTI government successfully addressed three issues including the terrorism, extremism in the country and Afghan refugees.