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ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday stressed the need to make joint efforts to steer the country out of prevalent economic and political crises, saying all the stakeholders need to play their role to turn the country into the most prosperous nation.

In his address to a joint sitting of the parliament, he said, “We can pull together to draw on our moral and political capital in steering our country out of its complex but not impossible, social, climate and economic challenges”.

“We need to get rid of the polarisation, so common now to contemporary politics. This joint house must play a leading role in rebuilding public confidence in the parliamentary process,” he maintained. He also expressed his gratitude to the lawmakers of both national and provincial assemblies for electing him as president for a second time.

He said that their agenda and ideology would strengthen the country and underlined the need for creating a political environment to fulfil the expectations of all stakeholders. He asked the political leadership of the country to highlight their priorities and stressed the need to end differences for the country’s prosperity.

“There are many economic reforms the government will drive in spurring jobs, reducing inflation and expanding the tax net, but to turn all this into reality effective coordination between federal and provincial governments is a must,” he declared.

He called for taking positive steps, saying harmony among state institutions is the need of the hour to pave the way for the development of the country.

The president’s address encompassed all of the major national and international matters and challenges from the economy, poverty, social welfare, women empowerment, and foreign policy to Kashmir and Palestine, as well as, climate change.

“I would like to urge the government to intensify its efforts in implementing comprehensive ease-of-doing-business reforms and simplifying the existing forest of regulations to provide an enabling environment for both foreign and domestic investors,” he added.

The president was all-praise for the establishment of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) and said it would go a long way to attract and facilitate investments in key sectors. He also stressed the need to accelerate the efforts to diversify exports, enhance the competitiveness of our products in global markets, introduce value addition, and venture into new markets. Similarly, the huge, untapped potential in the agriculture, marine life, information technology and textile sectors should be exploited to earn foreign exchange, he added.

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

About the terrorism, he warned that terrorism is rearing its head again in the country, and expressed hope that neighbouring countries would take action against militants involved in cross-border attacks. “Terrorism is a threat to our national security, prosperity and regional peace. Pakistan considers terrorism as a common threat.”

He said that he takes pride in the armed forces and law enforcement agencies which rendered immense sacrifices and played a heroic role in the fight against terrorism and defence of the national frontiers. He said that Pakistan has been serially devastated by different impacts of climate change, especially in the shape of catastrophic floods in 2022. “We urgently need to invest in climate-friendly and climate-resilient infrastructure to mitigate the rapidly compounding risks of climate change,” he said.

He said that regular investments in the primary and secondary health infrastructure, as well as, human resources are needed to ensure that every citizen has access to quality healthcare services and that no citizen lacks medical care.

About foreign policy, he said that he is particularly thankful to the friendly countries particularly Saudi Arabia, the UAE, China, Turkiye, and Qatar, which always supported Pakistan in difficult times. He said that it is important also to recognise that the US, EU, and UK have all been established trade partners, with a history of cooperation in many sectors, which we hope will grow further. “I would also like to thank China for its unwavering support to Pakistan in various fields. We remain steadfast in our commitment to collaborating with China which includes the completion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor [CPEC]. We will not allow hostile elements to jeopardise this vital project,” he added.

About Kashmir, he said, “I must remind the world of the unsung sacrifices of our Kashmiri brethren in their ongoing struggle for the freedom of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir”.

“I assure our Kashmiri brethren that Pakistan will continue to provide moral, political and diplomatic support to the people of occupied Kashmir until they get their right to self-determination,” he added. Pakistan believes that the key to durable peace in South Asia is the resolution of the dispute in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, he concluded.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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