President Dr Arif Alvi is currently addressing a joint sitting of parliament marking the fourth parliamentary year of the National Assembly.
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.
Talking about the economic changes last year, the president 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 compared to other countries.”
Amid loud protest by the opposition benches, the president paused to say: “Despite you making noise, you will have to accept the reality.”
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 per cent.
“People paying tax in such large numbers shows complete trust in government policies,” Alvi said, congratulation the government for devising and implementing laws and procedures to address the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force.
Recounting the government’s steps to uplift the masses, he said it had given a big construction package to people from the lower segments and the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme was started. “Not only has there been speed in financial activities but also opportunities for livelihood have been created,” he added.
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.
Opposition parties had threatened to boycott the session and stage protests in and outside the parliament house.
The opposition has accused the PTI government and the NA Speaker Asad Qaiser of violating the Constitution by not allowing a debate on the presidential address throughout the third parliamentary year that ended on Aug 13.
Besides the boycott of the joint session, the opposition has also planned to take part in a demonstration being staged by journalists outside the parliament building against what they termed “curbs on media by the government”.
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — an alliance of some opposition parties — had already announced that it would boycott the joint sitting of parliament and join media workers’ protest outside the parliament house on Sept 13.