NEW YORK - Visiting Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Babur Awan said Tuesday that Pakistan has made a complete transition from dictatorship to democracy and that for the first time the military is under the command of civilian leadership. Addressing members of the Pakistani community in New York, Awan said that parliament was now "calling the shots". Another first he cited was that the elected representatives discussed country's defence budget. Awan rejected the notion that MQM chief Altaf Hussain's letter calling on Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry to take suo moto action against those who plundered billions of rupees from 1971 to 2009 amounted to be a vote of no confidence in the ability of the government, in which his party is coalition partner, to deal with the country's economic crisis. "Any Pakistani can write a letter to the chief justice," he said while answering a question about Altaf Hussain's petition. Pakistan, the minister said, will soon get over the difficulties facing it and march towards a bright and prosperous future under the present democratic leadership. "We have started a journey in the right direction for the welfare of 175 million people," the minister, who is currently on a visit to the United States, told invited Pakistani-Americans at the Pakistan Consulate General in New York. Awan cited as a significant government's achievement that there were no political prisoners in the country, nor any cases have been registered against politicians. The Pakistan People's Party has also set another tradition: it is working with and was a coalition partner of all major political parties at the centre and in the provinces. In order to move forward, Pakistan needs democracy and democratic institutions to grow. Giving background to the crisis in Swat region, he said the military operation was launched after a unanimous decision of parliament that Pakistan's writ should be established on every inch of its territory. The minister said that the people of Swat had made great sacrifices for the sake of Pakistan. They have left everything behind because of their refusal to accept the system being enforced by the Taliban. On its part, the government and people of Pakistan were doing everything possible to care for them. Now the time had come for their return to their homes and hearths. The minister rejected the propaganda that Pakistan was a failed state. By what yardstick, Awan asked. Pakistan, he added, was a nuclear-weapon state, which plays an important role at the world stage. In conclusion, Awan urged Pakistani-Americans to step up their lobbying efforts in a determined effort to improve the image of their homeland that has been tarnished by hostile propaganda. He also urged them to sink their "petty differences" so as to project an image of unity here. Earlier, Consul General Mohsin Razi introduced gthe minister to the audience.