Pakistan always desired good relations with its neighbours, but India took this wish as a weakness, President Arif Alvi said on Monday as he accused New Delhi of trying to derail Islamabad’s relations with Beijing. Alvi made the remarks while addressing a joint session of Parliament to mark the start of the fourth parliamentary year of the National Assembly, the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament, amid protests from the Opposition parties.
Pakistan always desired good relations with its neighbours, but India took this wish as a weakness, Alvi said, recalling the Indian air strike on a terror camp in Pakistan in 2019. India’s war planes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan on February 26, 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed.
India has told Pakistan that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Islamabad in an environment free of terror, hostility and violence. India has said the onus is on Pakistan to create an environment free of terror and hostility. Alvi also alleged that India was doing immense injustice to the people of Kashmir. “I want to make it clear to India to stop the oppression in India and fulfil the promise of self-determination (in Kashmir), he said.
Alvi said Pakistan wants peace in Afghanistan and has been playing a positive role in the war-torn neighbouring country. Last week, the Taliban announced a hardline interim government led by Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, chief of the Taliban’s powerful decision-making body ‘Rehbari Shura’, in Kabul. At least 14 members of the Cabinet, including acting Prime Minister Mullah Akhund, are listed on the UN Security Council’s terrorism blacklist. The Taliban announced the formation of the government just three days after the visit of Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed to Kabul where he met the top leadership of the insurgent group.
Alvi also appreciated China’s “significant” role in Pakistan’s progress, adding that the country held its relations with Beijing in great esteem, despite India trying to derail these relations. “We look at relations with China with great respect and want to strengthen them. I want to make it clear to India that it will never be successful in its goals and Pak-China friendship will keep strengthening, he said.
On the domestic front, Alvi said that the government in its three-year tenure put the country on a prosperous and shining future by its performance in economy, social and human development sectors as well as in the foreign policy arena. Alvi also highlighted that a growing population was a threat and asked the people to pay attention to population control and requested the government to increase funding for this sector.
He also talked about trend of increasing violence against women: “In recent days, incidents of sexual violence against women emerged due to which everyone is sad and I think it is a national responsibility to take steps to curb such incidents, he said. Alvi, who is an ardent member of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, said that due to the efforts of the government, Pakistan’s exports increased to USD 25.3 billion in 2020-21 and the national course, the Pakistan Stock Exchange, “broke all past records and became Asia’s best-performing market and world’s fourth-best”.
When the protest by the Opposition grew louder, Alvi told them: “Despite you making noise, you will have to accept the reality.” The Opposition had announced to boycott his address due to various government policies including efforts to introduce electronic voting machines in the next election. The Opposition lawmakers were also angry as the government had announced to introduce media related laws, including Media Development Authority, which both the media organizations and opposition parties have termed an effort to muzzle free press.
The Opposition leaders staged a walk out of the session and joined a sit-in by the media in front of the parliament building to protest against the government.