Nobody allowed to usurp parliament’s powers: Zardari

Published: March 23, 2011
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President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, Speaker National Assembly Fehmida Mirza and Chairman Senate Farooq H Naek arrive for the parliament's joint session on Tuesday. PHOTO: PPI

President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, Speaker National Assembly Fehmida Mirza and Chairman Senate Farooq H Naek arrive for the parliament's joint session on Tuesday. PHOTO: PPI

ISLAMABAD: 

President Asif Ali Zardari vowed to defend democracy and the powers of parliament in his address on Tuesday to the joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate, which passed off without disruption thanks to a half-hearted boycott by the disjointed opposition.

“We will not permit anyone to usurp the powers that rightly belong to parliament. We believe that all state organs should work within their parameters as laid down in the Constitution,” Zardari said, as he became the first elected president to address parliament for four consecutive years.

“Let us strive to keep our egos aside. Let political forces stop challenging each other merely for political point scoring. It will only weaken democracy in the long run,” Zardari said in words directed at his political opponents. The restoration of the 1973 Constitution, he said, showed what political forces could do if they rose above politicking.

The president spent most of his address trumpeting the achievements of his Pakistan Peoples Party government in the last three years. He also outlined his government’s plans for the rest of his tenure.

The president is required by the constitution to address a joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate at the  start of each parliamentary year. Former president Pervez Musharraf managed it once, in 2004, in the five-year term of the last government.

Opposition disarray

The prospect of a speech disrupted by shouts from the opposition benches dissipated at the onset when the biggest opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, walked out of the house along with the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam and the two members of the PPP-Sherpao in a token protest at the speaker’s refusal to allow the opposition leader to speak on a point of order before the president’s address.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid later walked out separately, though around half a dozen of its members remained inside the house, indicating further divisions within the former ruling party that had already split into two major factions. PML-Q parliamentary leader Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat was angry with his party leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain for not taking him into confidence on the party’s strategy for the joint session.

Before the start, Opposition Leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had approached the PML-Q through Riaz Pirzada, suggesting they adopt a joint strategy. The latter declined, saying the PML-Q wanted to maintain its own identity as an opposition party.

Some PPP ministers accosted opposition members and urged them to return to the house. In closed-door negotiations, sources said, the Chaudhrys of Gujrat at one point agreed to return to the house, but changed their minds in the face of strong resistance from party members.

Fight against extremism

In his speech, Zardari paid tribute to the security forces and citizens who had been killed in fighting militancy and extremism. He also condemned the murders of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and federal minister Shahbaz Bhatti. Neither of the two houses of parliament has adopted resolutions condemning their assassinations.

Zardari said the government would take action against all criminals in Karachi and promised to provide security to all citizens.

He congratulated the parliament for passing the 18th and 19th constitutional amendments last year, which had banished constitutional distortions perpetrated by successive military dictators.

Zardari said that when his party came to power in 2008, it inherited an ailing economy and rising militancy and extremism. He claimed that his government had made significant progress on these issues.

He said a UN inquiry into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto had been completed and a challan based on its report submitted before the trial court. He said the individuals involved in her killing would not escape punishment, but his government’s priority was to defeat the mindset that was behind her assassination.

He said a “full spectrum dialogue process” had been resumed with India. He reiterated Pakistan’s position on Kashmir, saying the government wanted a just settlement in accordance with UN resolutions and the aspirations of the people of Kashmir.

Zardari said Pakistan would not permit the use of its soil for terrorist activities against any other country.

He called on other parties to join the government in building a consensus on resolving national issues like the energy shortage, circular debt, taxation reform, restructuring of public sector entities, and documenting the economy.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • moise
    Mar 23, 2011 - 8:10AM

    Hypocrisy. Regressive taxes passed by presidential orders and bypassing parliament.Recommend

  • KR
    Mar 23, 2011 - 8:37AM

    Economy is back on track ????? yea right. Does these people actually live in Pakistan????? or just collect money from us and live in some fancy villa in Dubai ?????Recommend

  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Mar 23, 2011 - 9:46AM

    It was just an address to PPP Parliamentarians and not to joint session of the parliament.

    Where were the opposition leaders?

    PPP is left alone.Recommend

  • Abdul Ali
    Mar 23, 2011 - 10:32AM

    Disappointed in the address. where is the vision to solve the problems
    and by the way,where was the photo of BBRecommend

  • bunny
    Mar 23, 2011 - 11:19AM

    A good xerox of an old speech…..Mr President nothing is getting better outside presidency….I will this nation will in saving this democaracy….and you will be saying sab acha hai…..Recommend

  • Hammad Siddiqui
    Mar 23, 2011 - 11:20AM

    How was the audiance? How many Pakistanies understand fuctional English? Was there anything that President should not have mentioned in his speech? Will there be a positive impact of his speech?

    But I wonder who gives it a dam?Recommend

  • yar jan
    Mar 23, 2011 - 12:22PM

    Z A Bhutto always took start from labors & farmers
    but
    Z Mirza started from Waderas & Feudal !!!Recommend

  • Imran
    Mar 23, 2011 - 1:33PM

    PML-N politicians are habitual liars. Their two-faced attitude is now totally obvious…. Whatever they say, they facilitated the government. Recommend

  • Asif Khan
    Mar 23, 2011 - 1:44PM

    My head bowed in shame, when Zardari became President..Recommend

  • Uza Syed
    Mar 23, 2011 - 1:57PM

    President Zardari warned, “We will not permit anyone to usurp the powers that rightly belong to parliament.”

    and this:

    “We believe that all state organs should work within their parameters as laid down in the Constitution.”

    and this:

    Let us strive to keep our egos aside.” ——-

    Message is loud and clear ——— let’s hope that we all heared it including, even, those among us who have ego too large to manage.Recommend

  • Mulla Toofhan
    Mar 23, 2011 - 5:04PM

    The Parliament is more of a show piece then a real power house. President and PM are just puppets on a string. Statements and speeches are just a formality and for media consumption. Its the Brown shirts who carries the stick. Value can only be added when Pakistan is becomes true Democracy, Its by the courtesy of America that the pillars of parliament is still standing otherwise we would be seeing Brown uniform in the Paliament and the opposition. A common feature in most of the muslim countries.Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Mar 23, 2011 - 5:18PM

    The address to the nation/parliamentarians is a clear message to those who murdered the hopes of the nation through “Judicial Intellectuality” right from the take-over by Ayub Khan and are still not mending their ways of shameless past. There was also a clear message for the collaborators who are fond of riding two horses at a time. If the nation really wants to move forward then “Usurpers” and their everlasting partners must be debated both in the print and electronic media. If someone or a single pillar really wants a lion’s share in the governance then he must resign from his present position and stop spreading venom in the society.Recommend

  • Uza Syed
    Mar 23, 2011 - 8:29PM

    @Aftab Kenneth Wilson: ” If someone or a single pillar really wants a lion’s share …….” ——- Then he should either be in a zoo or in a jungle !! Recommend

  • Free Hussaini
    Mar 24, 2011 - 6:26AM

    We have a famine in Sindh.

    These hungry are the peasants of the members of the provincial assembly of Sindh and the members of the National Assembly of Pakistan, the provincial and federal ministers, the senators.

    So no newsman, no TV crew ever visits these hungry to report their condition and to broadcast their plight.

    Would anybody, please, report how starved President Zardari’s peasants are?Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Mar 24, 2011 - 8:27AM

    @Uza Syed: Hahaha I agree with you I think before elevating anyone to some highest post then he must go thorough medical fitness and most importantly “Mental Condition”. One can not even run his own home if he has a crack pot whom one has to face day in and day out. If someone wants to become “Raymond Davis” (by killing three) then it won’t work this time.Recommend

  • Gill
    Mar 24, 2011 - 12:21PM

    Such remarks have been made in frustragtion on Supreme Court’s detailed judgement on NAB chairman case whereby Deedar Hussain Shah cannot be reappointed as NAB Chairman..Recommend

  • Ron(Indian)
    Mar 24, 2011 - 7:01PM

    Funny part about this guy is “he is president of a nation as well as ruling party president..” how is this allow?? Kindly explain this to me… As per indian constitution once you are appointed to president of india, the person should discard political assosiation.. I don’t know pakistani constitution.. so please let me know regarding this… Thanks.Recommend

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