'Parliament should pass 18th Amendment'

Nov 30, -0001
Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: The restoration of the 1973 constitution in its original shape will be a milestone in the history of the country, President Asif Ali Zardari said while addressing the joint session of the Parliament on Monday.

"Some people think that we have failed but we have become successful in solving many problems," said the President. "We have become successful to convince all parties on the restoration of the 1973 constitution in its original shape."

"I pay tribute to the work of the Constitutional Reforms Committee. I am thankful to all the parties about their cooperation and agreement on the restoration of the constitution," said Zardari in this address.

He said that the 18th amendment would bring the 1973 constitution in its original shape. More rights have been given to the provinces which would lead to provincial autonomy. Presidential powers have been reduced to create equilibrium.

He also said that it is also our major achievement to give an identity to the people of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) through a new name to their province, i.e. Khyber Pakhtunkhwah.

Zardari also said that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) believes in strengthening the Parliament because it was Shaheed Benazir Bhutto's mission to do so. He said he realizes that the Pakistani masses are facing difficulties due to poverty, inflation and a weak economy.

"I assure the nation that we would handle all challenges faced by the country. We have taken steps to strengthen the economy of the country and we have taken these steps at the expense of PPP’s popularity," said the President.

He said we have made history by announcing the Balochistan Package, and that this package would provide relief to the people of Balochistan. We have also made a commission to investigate the issue of the missing persons.

"We have taken steps to provide relief to the poor people on the basis of the Benazir Income Support Program which is aimed at helping the poor people," he said. He also mentioned giving autonomy to Gilgit-Baltistan and the bill to stop harassment against working women as other milestones in history.

He said that we are not ready to surrender this nation at the hands of the terrorists. The security forces have paid greater sacrifices in the war against terrorism. "I pay tribute to all those security personnel who had sacrificed their lives in war against terror. The sacrifices of our security personnel will not be invain. The government will take all steps necessary to root out terrorism from the country," he said.

"We are ready to have a dialogue with India for solution of all our issues, including the Kashmir dispute and the water dispute. We have a firm view point on Kashmir and that is that the people must be given the right of self determination," he said.

He said that we want to have good relations with all our neighbours. We have long standing relations with China and we will try to boost them.

He said that we have held a strategic dialogue with United States. We have told the Americans that Pakistan has given great sacrifices in the war against terrorism. And now United States should also take steps to facilitate and help Pakistan. "We have demanded the Americans to give access to the US markers and to give us trade, not aid. The international community has realized the importance of Pakistan now.

He said that the government is taking all possible steps to handle the energy crisis faced by the country.

Today’s speech was the President's third address to the joint parliament session and it will be relayed in 33 languages for the first time in the history of Pakistan.

The president’s speech was directly aired by Radio Pakistan’s Medium Wave and FM Network. For the first time in national history, the president’s speech was translated and aired in 23 local languages and 10 foreign languages.

After Rafique Tarar, President Zardari was the first president whose speech will be heard without any protest from the opposition. In the past, former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Farooq Leghari faced strong protest from the opposition during their speeches to the parliament. Former president Pervez Musharraf addressed the assembly only once and never attempted to address it again after labeling it as uncultured. SAMAA

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