ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday addressed a joint session of parliament to mark the beginning of the fourth parliamentary year of the National Assembly.
Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as various foreign dignitaries are also attending the session. Alvi began his speech by congratulating the members of parliament on the start of the new legislative year, and expressed the wish that democratic values and “tradition of tolerance” flourished in Pakistan.
The president’s address went on as opposition initially protested, chanting slogans against the government and Prime Minister Imran Khan. The opposition also held banners ‘rejecting’ the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) law.
However, led by opposition leaders Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Shehbaz Sharif, the opposition staged a walkout soon after the address began.
To this, the President said the opposition will have to acknowledge the successes Pakistan made in the previous three years. “The country is on the right track, whereas its economy was progressing,” he asserted.
Talking about the economic changes last year, Alvi noted that world economies shrank due to the negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, but due to the government’s prudent policies, “Pakistan’s economic performance was better.”
He noted that in the financial year 2021-21, Pakistan’s exports increased to $25.3 billion, while the Pakistan Stock Exchange “broke all past records and became Asia’s best-performing market and world’s fourth-best”.
He said overseas developers had shown confidence in government policies and business confidence had increased by 60 percent. “People paying tax in such large numbers shows complete trust in government policies,” Alvi added.
He further highlighted the government’s steps for the people of Pakistan, saying that it had given a big construction package to people from the lower segments and the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme was started.
He acknowledged the 2.77pc growth in the agriculture sector, and lauded a government initiative to provide skills training to youth under which he said 1.7 million youngsters had been provided opportunities.
“Because of corruption and wrong priorities, we were not only deprived of progress but also left behind the world in human development indicators,” he said, noting that in the modern age, national security was not just limited to borders and soldiers but also depended on food, education and health sectors.
He mentioned a number of social protection measures introduced by the government under the umbrella of the Ehsaas programme, saying their highlight was that they focussed on humans.