ISLAMABAD - President Mamnoon Hussain on Monday called upon all state institutions to perform their duties according to the law of the land, saying they may not make political likes and dislikes while performing their duties.
"In the eyes of the law and constitution, people of all the areas are equal, their language, race, political inclination and family connections have secondary importance," said President Mamnoon Hussain, addressing joint session of the Parliament at the beginning of new parliamentary year.
Mamnoon Hussain, in his maiden address to parliament delivered in Urdu, touched upon various issues of the country including Kashmir, terrorism, power crisis and political differences among different political factions. He also highlighted the role of media, army and judiciary in national progress.
Amid a boycott of the joint sitting by the joint opposition in the Senate, the president said parliament has played vital role in continuity of democracy and promotion of system, expressing the hope they will continue to work for promoting reconciliation, tolerance and coordination to further strengthen the system.
"We have realised that democracy is not the name of confrontation, conflict, opposition for the sake of opposition or revenge but the spirit of democracy of reconciliation, tolerance and mutual cooperation," he said, adding that opposition has to play a key role in strengthening the democracy and it is appreciable that the opposition in the parliament has played a commendable role in this regard.
He further said that they have to move forward under the principles of father of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and follow the rules set by him – Unity, Faith and Discipline. He further stressed to promote cooperation and unity among the state institutions 'as their stability is the stability of the state'.
"Pakistan is facing scourge of terrorism and extremism, and to put the country on way to progress, it is critically important to resolve this issue, for this the government chose the option of dialogue." The president called for promoting unity among the nation so as to counter the propaganda of those who were active in creating differences among the people.
"Let us promise that we will eradicate the curse of terrorism from this country... to ensure the endurance and stability of democracy we will put aside political and other differences," he said, adding they will struggle for religious, ideological and intellectual harmony.
The president said Pakistan wants a negotiated settlement of Kashmir dispute according to UN Security Council Resolutions and aspirations of the people. "We also want solution of Kashmir issue on basis of resolutions passed by the United Nations and as per the aspirations of the people of Kashmir."
Referring to Pakistan's relations with other countries, President Mamnoon said, "We want brotherly and friendly relations with all neighbours on the principle of sovereignty and equality". He said they are ready to promote friendly and constructive relationship of India and Afghanistan. About relations with India, he said, "The visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to New Delhi was a step forward to normalise relation with our neighbour to bring peace and stability in the region."
About China, the president said in reality the whole global community realises that Pakistan and China are like two bodies and one soul in the real sense. About Iran, he said they want to further strengthen centuries old ties with Iran. "The Iran-Pakistan Gas pipeline project will be competed for sure and this will further straiten the roots of relations," he added. He further said Pakistan is grateful to European Union for providing it access to their markets.
The president, in his long speech, also appreciated the services of civil and army institutions who were working with utmost patriotism. "Our armed forces are defending and protecting borders of the country very proficiently." He appreciated the bravery of the people of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) who always stood at forefront for the country and never hesitated from sacrifices.
The president said nation fully realises that cooperation and understanding among state institutions is critically needed today. “At a time when our enemies are actively working to create conflict and discard among us, we need to maintain unity and confidence among us.”
Commenting on the role of civil society, he said it was active in Pakistan and said it was expected of them to keep in view the national law, traditions, social fabric and public sentiments while determining their priorities. Mamnoon said the government was active in safeguarding the religious rights of minorities and was pursuing the same spirit which was expressed by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his speech on August 11, 1947.
About the media, he said media in Pakistan was enjoying freedom, however, he said a code of conduct for its objective working was a must. "The government does not believe in any restriction on media, however, they do expect that media may formulate such code of conduct for itself."
About Power crisis in the country, President Mamnoon Hussain was optimistic that the menace would be ended soon and country would be set on the path of economic growth and development. "I am confident that steps taken by government will help to bring an end to load-shedding and darkness."
The president also slightly touched upon the government's achievements in its first year, saying that the performance is extremely impressive. He highlighted increase in gross national production, decrease in budget deficit, successful launch of Euro Bond, European Union grant of GSP Plus status to Pakistan, increase in remittance and increase in export of textile products.
He also highlighted various schemes and projects launched by the government to generate employment for youth and impart them training in different skills which he said would ultimately benefit the country.
Besides the members and heads of all legislative houses of the country, the first session of the parliamentary year was attended by provincial governors, chief ministers, AJK president and prime minister, the three services chiefs and diplomats.
The performance of the PML-N government and its allies towards legislation could be gauged from the fact that during the first parliamentary year of 14th assembly, only one bill turned into an act of the parliament.
The lower house in around 130 working days was able to pass only eleven bills but just one bill (The Finance Bill, 2013) could become an act of parliament.
On the other hand, the joint opposition in the Senate arguing about their boycott of the session said that why the opposition should attend the presidential address if the prime minister could not visit the senate even for once the entire year.