Time to turn over a new leaf to overcome challenges, President tells parliamentarians

Time to turn over a new leaf to overcome challenges, President tells parliamentarians


Time to turn over a new leaf to overcome challenges, President tells joint sitting of parliament

  • Zardari addresses joint session of parliament amid opposition protest
  • Calls for dialogue and consensus to end polarisation, address challenges
  • Emphasises need for investing in people, harnessing resources for growth
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ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday, while calling for turning over a new leaf and making a fresh start, emphasised the need for 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.

This was President Zardari’s inaugural address to the 16th National Assembly, where he had the distinction of addressing the joint session of parliament for the seventh time, as he has previously addressed the 13th National Assembly for five times and the 14th National Assembly once.

While addressing the joint sitting, President Zardari said, “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.”

Chaired by National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, the joint sitting was attended by members of the National Assembly and Senate while in the galleries were provincial chief ministers and parliamentarians, diplomats as well as representatives of different political parties.

During the president’s address, lawmakers on the opposition benches, led by the PTI, staged protest against alleged ‘election rigging’, inflation and for the supremacy of the constitution, creating a ruckus.

The president’s address was in pursuance of Article 56 (3) of the Constitution which marked the beginning of the first parliamentary year, following the general elections on Feb 8.

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.

Zardari said having given away his powers to 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, he 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. The country needs us to move on from the polarisation so common now to contemporary politics,” he remarked and sought joint house’s role in rebuilding public confidence in the parliamentary process.

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

The president had summoned the joint session of parliament in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 54(1) and 56(3) of the Constitution.

According to the constitutional provisions, the president should address a joint session of parliament at the commencement of the first session of National Assembly following a general election and at the outset of each parliamentary year as well.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PPP leaders Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Aseefa Bhutto among other members of the National Assembly and Senate attended the joint session.

The chief of army staff, the chairman joint chiefs of staff committee, other services chiefs, the chief justice of Pakistan, chief ministers and governors of the four provinces as well as ambassadors of several countries were issued invitations to the joint sitting.