President Arif Alvi’s address to the joint session of the parliament was ingrained in a thorough analysis of the government’s performance, and went on to state the obvious that a leap forward has inevitably been made. The constitutionally mandated speech also marked the beginning of the fourth parliamentary year of the PTI government. The President was categorical in his approach, and minced no words in appreciating the leadership of the PM in bailing out the economy from a shambles, successfully managing the vaccination campaign and reorienting foreign relations to a new high. He was convinced that a shining future lies ahead as the human development index has made headway, and democratic culture has flourished despite dissent and differences among the political forces.
While calling upon an agitating opposition — which was in uproar on the floor of the house — to rise to the occasion in realising the progress that the government has made, he stressed on promoting tolerance and compassion. The President mentioned that Pakistan is on the path of industrialisation, exports have risen to $25 billion, and the bourses are Asia’s best performing. Likewise, he was pleased to acknowledge a promising growth rate, surge in remittances, and FBR’s record tax collection. A reference was also made to the globally-appreciated Ehsaas programme that funds the destitute, headway in overcoming the FATF conditionalities and last but not least providing vocational training to around 1.7 million youth.
Keeping aside the glory picture that the President painted, there is an ugly blot on the parliamentary face as this ceremonial event takes place every year. Since 1988, when democracy 2.0 crept in, no President has been heard by the august members with due attention. Politics of hate and point-scoring have overrun participatory democratic values, rendering this single day of parliamentary business to a laughing stock. This is unfortunate, and parliamentarians need to revisit this politics of pandemonium.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th, 2021.
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