Pakistan’s president urges world to take notice of military siege in India-held Kashmir
Pakistan’s state institutions, including Parliament, Army and the judiciary, are united in ensuring the rule of law and providing social justice to the country’s citizens, President Arif Alvi said on Thursday.
Addressing a joint session of Parliament in Islamabad to mark the start of a new parliamentary year, he said that Pakistan was currently at the “tipping point” of becoming a forward-looking nation. “Pakistan is seeing a bright future, favoring development and innovation for the first time in its history,” he claimed.
He said the government had put the country’s policy in the right direction despite a challenging international and regional scenario and stressed the need to end a feeling of despondency prevalent among the population.
Lauding the prime minister for his recent statement that Pakistan would not recognize Israel until Palestinians had been granted their due rights, the president said this was in line with the views of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Referring to the Kashmir dispute, Alvi said Pakistan had rejected India’s illegal actions of Aug. 5, 2019, reiterating that they were designed to alter the demography of India-held Jammu and Kashmir. He said India was trying to impose the ideology of Hindutva on its minorities and urged the world to take notice of the military siege in the disputed region.
He also thanked China, Turkey, Malaysia, Iran, and Azerbaijan for their strong support to Pakistan on Kashmir, and for condemning the Indian atrocities.
President Alvi praised the government for containing the spread of coronavirus, claiming its strategy had helped people in testing times. “There was a pressure to impose a total lockdown in the country,” he said and reiterated the prime minister’s talking point of not letting the poor die of hunger. He said around 57 Muslim countries had suspended prayers in mosques during the pandemic, but people in Pakistan had continued to offer prayers in congregations.
“I congratulate the NCOC, NDMA and the prime minister for withstanding pressure and remaining firm on their stance,” he said, adding that the media should also be appreciated for raising awareness among the public to adopt precautionary measures against coronavirus.
He also praised the government’s Eshaas Program and the Sehat Sahulat cards launched in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, saying these measures would greatly help the impoverished.
Alvi said Pakistan enjoyed strong relations with Saudi Arabia and wanted to further strengthen them, adding that the Gulf kingdom had stood by Islamabad during difficult times. “We are very grateful to our brotherly Islamic country for this,” he added.
On Afghanistan, he said Pakistan had suffered the most due to conflict in its neighboring country. Peace and reconciliation would benefit Pakistan to a great extent, he added.
Expressing satisfaction over the country’s economic situation, the president claimed it had achieved stability despite difficult circumstances amid the coronavirus pandemic. He said the current account deficit had reduced from $20 billion to $3 billion in two years, while foreign exchange reserves had increased from $8.5 billion to $12.5 billion. He also hailed exports exceeding $1.9 billion in July and the increase in foreign remittances from $20 billion to $23 billion.
“It is now time to renew work on establishing voting rights for overseas Pakistanis as pledged to them earlier,” he said.
The president said Rs. 280 billion had been given for the improvement of the agriculture sector, besides provision of cheap electricity to tube-wells. He also lauded the start of construction on the Diamer-Bhasha Dam, and the recent approval of the Main Line-1 railway project.
Alvi said Pakistan had the fifth highest population in the world and said effective steps were needed to reduce this. He said encouraging breastfeeding among mothers would help only reduce malnourishment and stunting in children, and would also help in birth-spacing.
He also stressed mainstreaming of people with special needs and implementing laws in full letter and spirit for their uplift. He called for ensuring the inheritance rights of women in line with Quranic teachings.
He lauded Parliament for passing FATF-related laws and the Anti-Money Laundering Amendment Bill, and also pointed to the need to focus on controlling smuggling.
Referring to Karachi, he welcomed the positive consultations between the federal and provincial government to address all issues on priority. He also said the government’s Clean and Green Pakistan initiative was the correct measure to protect the environment.
Concluding his speech, President Alvi said democracy was essential to ensure a bright future for Pakistan, and hoped that parliamentarians would fulfill their duties in holding the interest of the country supreme.