ISLAMABAD Addressing joint sitting of the Parliament for the fourth consecutive year amid uproar and rumpus followed by opposition parties walkout, President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday vowed to uphold supremacy of the Constitution and the Parliament. We will not permit anyone to usurp the powers that rightly belong to the Parliament, said the President. All chief ministers but Punjabs CM Shahbaz Sharif, the governors of the provinces and chiefs of the three armed forces attended the joint session. President Zardari, in the wide-ranging address that covered all important aspects of governance, highlighted achievements since the PPP-led coalition government came into power, and said his government believed that all state organs should work within their parameters as laid down in the Constitution. Referring to the restoration of the Constitution, he said it showed that if all political parties rise above politicking, they can deliver. Let us strive to keep our egos aside. Let political forces stop challenging each other, merely for political point-scoring. It only weakens democracy in the long run, the President said. He said it was the task of the leadership to unite; not divide. We believe in reconciliation, and not confrontation. President Asif Zardari commended Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani for pursuing the policy of reconciliation and consensus, given by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. We have achieved consensus on constitutional reforms, the President said and called for building consensus on resolving issues like energy shortage, circular debt, taxation reforms, restructuring of public sector entities and documentation of the economy. President Zardari however added that under the privatisation policy of the coalition government, the outright sale of national assets and institutions would not take place. Our policy is based on Public-Private partnership, he said and added that shares would be offered for sale through stock exchanges. President Zardari, interspersed with applause, congratulated the members and all the political parties, both in the government and in the opposition, for the unanimous passage of the 18th and the 19th amendments. The President started his address with a strong condemnation, on behalf of the people of Pakistan and on his own, for the deliberate desecration of the Holy Quran by a fanatic pastor in Florida. President Zardari called upon the House to adopt a resolution urging the United Nations to address this issue for the sake of harmony and peace in the world. The resolution was later passed. President Asif Zardari, strongly reacting to the acts of terrorism in the country, expressed the resolve to fight the militants to the finish. He expressed the resolve for a modern and moderate Pakistan - the Pakistan of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He, however, warned that the fight against militancy might be long and bitter. We will not back down, the President said and pointed we have no other option except to win ... Win we will. And soon InshaAllah. The President also paid tribute to all martyrs, who had laid down their lives in fighting the militancy and the extremism. The President said that the economy of Pakistan is improving, adding that other countries are helping Pakistan to improve its economic agenda. From our very first days in office, we inherited multiple problems. These were problems of: an ailing economy, rising militancy, and growing extremism. But three years is a long enough period to demonstrate progress. We have brought the economy back on track; in our villages and in our cities, in our provinces, in FATA in Azad Kashmir and in Gilgit Baltistan. We must create opportunities for our youth. And give hope to the people, said the President. The President however claimed that inflation was already on the rise when he took over the power. When the present government took charge we were a food deficit country. Rising inflation, power shortages, worldwide recession and falling remittances compounded the situation. The fight against militancy and the unprecedented floods last year further worsened it. According to the Damage and Needs Assessment, the overall damage to our economy, is nearly 10 billion dollars. Our thoughts and prayers are with the flood victims. President Zardari said that his government had to take tough, unpopular decisions to put the economy on track. Making tough decisions is the responsibility of leadership, no doubt. We are not afraid to lead; and we know the way. The government reduced the cabinet size. The subsidy regime has been rationalised. Tax reforms have been introduced, to mobilise resources. The tax net is being expanded, through introduction of the Reformed General Sales Tax. Pay and judicial allowance of the superior judiciary have also been considerably enhanced, he added. He said credible, accurate and complete voters list was the foremost requirement for free and fair elections. I commend the maturity with which all political parties have agreed to address this issue, and remove once and for all, the stigma of rigged elections, through bogus votes. He said that not just for the children of the rich, but for all the sons and daughters of Pakistan, 2011 has been declared the Year of Education. The President blames historic power shortage on the absence of continuity in policies. Energy sector has suffered, because policies were thoughtlessly reversed. I call upon the business community to give ownership to the economic policies regardless of which government gives the policy. Next month the groundbreaking of 4500MW Basha hydel project will take place. The President said up-gradation of Tarbela will be completed by end of this year. He said the government has taken steps, to restore dignity and honour to labour by restoring over 7,000 sacked employees and raising minimum wages of unskilled workers from Rs 4,600 to Rs 7,000 per month. Now the workers have the right to seek legal remedies against dismissal. A worker can no longer be dismissed from service without cause. Enumerating parliamentary achievements of his government, he said 20 Acts of Parliament were passed during the last year. The Prime Minister attended the sessions of National Assembly for 99 days - a record for now. A caucus of women Parliamentarians on Peace and Reconciliation was held. We believe in transparent, and across the board accountability of all. A draft Bill is already in the Senate. Reforms in FATA, and amendments to the FCR, have been finalised. Recently major political parties joined hands, to endorse the reforms, and demand their immediate implementation. I assure you that the reforms announced on August 14, 2009 will soon be implemented. He said the status of Kala Dakka in Pukhtukhwa, had already changed from PATA to settled area. The President said the UN Commission of Inquiry in the assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto has submitted its report. The family of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and the Pakistan Peoples Party do not believe in revenge. While the individuals involved will certainly not escape punishment, we aim at defeating the mindset that was behind her assassination. The President said all must denounce what is wrong. And violence, hatred, extremism and intolerance are wrong. We are committed to protecting the rights of the minorities. The government is earnestly addressing the issue of missing persons. The President also condemned the killings of Salman Taseer and monorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti. Speaking on international relations, he said Pakistans foreign policy is aimed at advancing our national security, promoting peace and economic agenda, while safeguarding national dignity, sovereignty and independence. With the United States, we remain committed, to building a long-term partnership, based on mutual respect, mutual interest and sovereign equality. The President said our strategic cooperation with China continues to grow from strength to strength. Relations with Afghanistan have undergone a sea change. The President also expressed profound sadness over the tragedy unleashed by natural disaster in Japan. I wish to express the great sympathy of the people of Pakistan, to Japan in their hour of grief. The tragedy has also brought into focus, environmental issues connected with nuclear energy. About various domestic issues facing the country, the President said tough decisions must be taken together. I invite all political parties for a national dialogue; sooner rather than later.