ISLAMABAD - President Mamnoon Hussain on Tuesday said it never came to his mind that he was powerless like presidents of the past and that he was satisfied with his constitutional role.

Talking to Nawa-i-Waqt at an informal sitting, the president said: “No political activities are held in the Presidency nowadays.” When questioned whether the apolitical Presidency had reduced its expenses, the president replied he had decreased the budget by 30 percent in the light of the PML-N government’s decision. “I have decided to lay off 150 employees of the Presidency, but I am trying to save lower staff from this downsizing,” he asserted.

Answering a question, the president said if Pervez Mushararf was convicted in the high treason case and a mercy appeal came to him, he would decide the matter in accordance with the law of the land.

Mamnoon expressed surprise that the President’s House had been constructed over 471 acres of land, saying a large number of employees were required to look after it. The president said he would try to cut expenses and follow a simple style.

The president said: “I am taking interest in the education sector. I have found that certain universities in Islamabad are very good and their standard of education is also up to the mark. I am of the view that standard of education in Karachi universities is declining. I desire that there should be excellent teaching and learning in every university of the country.”He expressed dissatisfaction over the academic standard of Allama Iqbal Open University and revealed an advisory committee would soon be formed to improve its standard of education.

Answering another question, Mamnoon said the Presidency was no more a factory of issuing ordinances as the present government, contrary to the past practice, was careful and, instead of forwarding ordinances to me for approval, tabled bills in the Parliament for legislation.

Answering yet another question, he said his doors were open to the opposition lawmakers who could come to him as and when they wished. “I am the President of Pakistan, not of any particular party. My basic job is to create harmony among the federation and the provinces,” he said.

The president was of the view that the law and order situation in Karachi was improving after the operation. He, however, hoped the port city would witness complete peace after a few months. He ruled out any threat to democracy and said it was flourishing in the country. He urged all the people to make sincere efforts to steer the country out of the existing crises.

The president made it clear that he and his family members did not perform Haj on government expenses. “My son bore our travel expenses while during our stay in Saudi Arabia we were state guests,” he further clarified.