President Arif Alvi addressed a joint session of parliament on Thursday to mark the advent of the new parliamentary year and recounted the performance of the PTI government over the past two years.
Prime Minister Imran Khan also attended the joint session.
Members of the opposition shouted slogans and voiced their protest as National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser invited the president to speak. Shortly after, some members of the opposition staged a walk out and held a press conference outside Parliament House.
Alvi began his address by highlighting the PTI government’s performance over the past two years.
“We should look back on the past two years to see what has been done, what will be done and what should be done.”
He congratulated the people of the country for fighting against terrorism. “Another achievement is that you provided shelter to Afghan refugees.”
Other countries preach about human rights but don’t let even 10 migrants enter their countries, he said, adding that Pakistan had shown its open-heartedness.
The president maintained that “positive news” was not highlighted in the country by the media. “If I have a child, I will encourage them, let them know they have done a good job and that they can do better instead of telling them they have done this or that wrong.”
Giving the coronavirus pandemic as an example, the president said that initially there was a lot of fear mongering that the “people will die in the streets”.
“Across the Muslim world, Taraweeh prayers and daily prayers at mosques were banned [for fear of the virus spreading]. But we worked with our religious scholars and continued with prayers at mosques.
“When there is a will to take care of the vulnerable segment of society, there is success.”
Alvi added that now the world was recognising the government’s response to the pandemic. “Today, the world is giving our example. I don’t remember the last time I heard something like that.”
He also touched upon the government’s Ehsaas programme, introduced to provide those most affected by the fall-out from the virus with cash stipends.
“I commend the premier and the government for standing by their stance [on the country’s Covid-19 response] despite criticism from the opposition.”
The president said that Pakistan’s current account deficit had reduced despite the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc on the economy.
“Our ratings by Moody’s and Fitch have improved, showing us that they think the country’s situation looks good.”
It shows that the government’s policies are working, and if the coronavirus had not emerged, it would have managed to take it to new heights, he said.
Commenting on occupied Kashmir, the president said that it was only due to the premier’s efforts that the matter was taken up by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) thrice during the past year. “This is your victory.”
He also lauded the premier for his strong remarks on Israel, in which he stated that Pakistan would not recognise it as a state until Palestine is freed. “Such bold statements give strength to others.”
The president also congratulated the parliament for helping the government to pass bills aimed at removing the country from Financial Action Task Force’s grey list.
“Last year there was a lot of noise, but the parliament passed the FATF bills. That is what a parliament is supposed to do.
“I keep getting asked if we are all on the same page and I say that all institutions have the same goals. The government, Pakistan Army, the judiciary, and the media are on the same page.
“We want easy and quick justice for the people and zero compromise on corruption. We also want to overcome all hindrances in the way of the country’s development.”