'Running out of time': President Zardari calls for steering country out of 'political crisis'

"I also feel that we have a little time to waste, country needs us to move on from polarisation," says president

Web Desk
April 18, 2024
President Asif Ali Zardari is addressing joint session of parliament on April 18, 2024. — National Assembly of Pakistan
President Asif Ali Zardari is addressing joint session of parliament on April 18, 2024. — National Assembly of Pakistan

  • President says institutional harmony required for development.
  • Zardari calls for turning new page, making a fresh start.
  • “We have little time to waste," he says.

President Asif Ali Zardari has called for making joint efforts to steer the country out of crisis and also called upon all stakeholders to play their role for the prosperity of the nation.

He stated this while addressing the joint session of parliament on Thursday after the February 8 general elections amid protest staged by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) lawmakers.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Aseefa Bhutto were among the members of the National Assembly and Senate who attended the today's joint session.

Top officials including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also attended the session chaired by National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq while provincial chief ministers, diplomats, and representatives from political parties were present in the galleries.

“Let me also take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all parliamentarians and provincial assembly members for their trust and confidence in electing me for a second time as the president of Islamic republic of Pakistan,” the president said this in his opening remarks.

President Zardari said their agenda and ideology will strengthen the country and underlined the need for creating a political environment to fulfill the expectations of all stakeholders.

He asked the political leadership of the country to highlight their priorities and stressed the need for ending differences for the country's prosperity.

“While there are many economic reforms the government will drive in spurring jobs, reducing inflation and expanding the tax net, I want to underscore the importance of promoting positive working relationships and effective coordination, within our constitutional framework, between the Federal Government and the Provinces. This is absolutely essential for promoting an inclusive national development agenda and rolling out policies that execute tangible action on the ground.”

President Zardari called for taking positive steps, saying harmony among institutions is the need of the hour to pave wave for the development of the country.

“If we see today as a new beginning, which it is, then we can build on our strengths by investing in our people, by focusing on public needs, and by harnessing our resources to create pathways to inclusive growth.”

He said: “I also feel that we have little time to waste. The country needs us to move on from the polarisation so common now to contemporary politics. This joint House must play a leading role in rebuilding public confidence in the parliamentary process and establish a foundation for the uninterrupted sustainable development of our nation.”

'Meaningful dialogue'

In the same address, Zardari called for turning a new page and making a fresh start, emphasising a meaningful dialogue, parliamentary consensus and fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect and political reconciliation to do away with the polarisation and overcome the challenges pervading the country.

“In my considered view, it is time to turn a new page… The challenges we face are not impossible to overcome. They just require the fundamentals of meaningful dialogue, and parliamentary consensus… We can effectively tackle our challenges and foster an atmosphere of mutual respect and political reconciliation.”

The president’s address encompassed all of the major national and international matters and challenges from economy, poverty, social welfare, women empowerment and foreign policy to Kashmir and Palestine as well as climate change.

He said having given away his powers to the parliament, his role was as a unifying symbol of a joint, robust federation, where all people and provinces should be treated as equal before the law.

As a new beginning, President Zardari said the country needed to build its strengths by investing in people, focusing on public needs, and harnessing its resources to create pathways to inclusive growth. “We have little time to waste.

Calling for resetting the political atmosphere and reflect “more light than heat”, he emphasised reforms, to promote good governance and turning challenges into opportunities.

'Terrorism rearing its head again'

Stressing the need for joint efforts, President Zardari has warned that terrorism is rearing its head again in the country, hoping that neighbouring countries will take action against militants involved in cross-border attacks.

“Terrorism is a threat for our national security, prosperity and regional peace. Pakistan considers terrorism as a common threat.”

The president said that the terrorist groups involved in attacks on the security forces and people. He hoped that the neighbouring counties would take measures against the terrorist groups involved in launching attacks inside Pakistan.