Dr Arif Alvi says good relations with all countries forms basis of foreign policy
ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday urged the political leadership to stand united and make concerted efforts to strengthen accountability, counter corruption and address economic challenges by enforcing austerity and playing their part in providing social justice, health and education to the masses.
Alvi, in his maiden address to the joint sitting of parliament after assuming office, termed corruption an ill that had badly affected the national economy and plunged the country into a serious debt trap.
The joint session, co-chaired by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, was attended by members from both the houses of the parliament, including Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The president said Pakistan was facing gigantic challenges, both at the domestic and international fronts, and the biggest was a weak economy. The country has been spending a major share of its resources on debt repayment.
“The balance of trade is also unfavourable. There is a huge gap in the quantum of our imports and exports. The circular debt has increased to Rs1,100 billion [Dh32.4 billion] over the past few years and the value of rupee has depreciated sharply in recent months,” Alvi said.
The present government, he said, had resolved to make a New Pakistan.
“In my view, the concept of New Pakistan lies in promoting simplicity, discontinuation of unnecessary protocols and a corruption-free system. We should keep in mind that we are a nation which is under the burden of debt,” he added.
The president urged the government and leaders of all political parties to guide the nation in the right direction. He was confident that the government would chart out a clear road map in all sectors and at the same time ensure transparency in governance.
He said the construction of new water reservoirs was among the top government priorities and he believed that both residents and overseas Pakistanis would respond positively to the donations appeal of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the Prime Minister. This would not only raise capital for the construction of new dams but would also help enhance the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
The president said Pakistan was one of the countries facing a severe water crisis. Due to scarcity and reckless use of water, its underground resources had depleted to a dangerous level as several areas of Balochistan and Sindh were facing drought.
Alvi said good relations with all the countries, particularly with neighbours, constituted the basis for a country’s foreign policy.
Expressing the hope about improvement in the foreign policy, he said as a nation, it was the government’s priority to have good ties with all the countries in general and with the Muslim world in particular.