Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf Saturday said the completion of full constitutional term by his government was no less than a historic achievement, despite all the odds. In a farewell address to the nation, aired live on national television channels and radio, the Prime Minister said the present government continued to face negative propaganda and self concocted allegations, since day one. Despite all odds, completion of the term is an extraordinary and historic achievement, the Prime Minister said and added that the journey of democracy to this stage has seen many difficulties, tests and tribulations.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said he was pleased to address the nation at the successful completion of the constitutional term of the National Assembly. He also congratulated the nation on the momentous occasion.
The Prime Minister said it was also a matter of honor for him that an ordinary person like him was the prime minister of the country and said it reflected continuity of the democratic dispensation in the country. He said there was a long history of conflict between the democratic and non-democratic forces in the country, however now the democratic forces have finally succeeded.
He said today an elected democratic government was in the final phase of constitutional transfer of power.
The Prime Minister also thanked all the political parties and institutions that played their part in strengthening the democracy. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said at this stage he would not like to get into the bitter past, but for a brighter future it was important to take a look at the past.
He said Pakistan’s first Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan was shot dead. This was followed by conspiracies against several other prime ministers, to the extent that the most popular leader of all times Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged to death.
He said the Quaid-e-Azam gave the right of vote to the common man, recovered thousands of square miles of land, brought back to Pakistan 90,000 prisoners of war, laid the foundation for Pakistan’s nuclear program and gave the right to the poor to live with dignity and gave Pakistan a leadership role.
He said this friend of Pakistan was removed from power and hanged in a baseless court case. Today the entire world terms his martyrdom a judicial murder and those responsible are ashamed and are exposed to wrath of the people.
The Prime Minister said after the end of era of martial law of General Zia ul Haq, the people of Pakistan brought into power Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto which reflected their deep love for democracy. However, he said conspiracies against democracy continued and her government was removed unconstitutionally.
Ashraf said in the recent Asghar Khan case, the claim of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto that the 1990 elections were stolen has been proven correct. He termed it an insult to the mandate of the people and denial of right of Pakistan People’s Party to come into power.
He said a fake coalition was created that forced Benazir Bhutto to leave the country.
He said Benazir Bhutto was shot dead when she returned to the country and the world lost a great leader, while Pakistan lost a visionary politician. However the shocked and aggrieved people of Pakistan vowed that they will complete her mission.
He said after her martyrdom, the party asked her spouse President Asif Ali Zardari to fill in the vacuum, who had faced great ordeal in the jails, however his policies of reconciliation took the politics in Pakistan to new heights.
He said no prime minister, including Mohammad Khan Junejo and Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif were unable to complete their constitutional term and referred to what happened to his predecessor in the recent past.
The Prime Minister said in the past five years the government has had to face strong criticism from media. But we kept in view the freedom of media and not only tolerated all criticism, but also cooperated with it, so that it continues to work for strengthening of democracy, independently.
The Prime Minister said while keeping in view the right of media to be independent, it must also keep in view that the elements of care and responsibilities are not ignored.
Prime Minister Ashraf said it was unfortunate that whenever Pakistan Peoples Party came into power, it got a shaky state, surrounded in innumerable problems. He said in 2008, Pakistan was in a state of turmoil with a weak federation, the country was isolated at the international level, economy was in shatters, energy shortages were acute, the foreign exchange reserves had depleted to an alarming level, the country was facing severe food shortages and the sovereignty of the country was at stake due to terrorism.
The Prime Minister said it was alarming to note that the national flag no long fluttered in Swat, a fact that was pointed out by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in her last address at Liaqat Bagh. He said the Constitution was distorted, media was under intense pressure and the judges of superior judiciary were under house arrest, Balochistan was simmering and the country as a whole was in a state of chaos and uncertainty.
Prime Minister Ashraf said to get Pakistan out of this state; a policy of reconciliation was adopted at the national level and efforts were made to improve the performance of the institutions. We put in place an independent foreign policy and with the support of the masses, our brave army achieved success in Swat, and Pakistan’s flag again fluttered over Swat.
The Prime Minister said his government believed in dialogue, but stressed that could only be achieved within the ambit of State, Constitution, Parliament and laws of the land. He said Pakistan’s interests were supreme over all other things. I salute all the institutions and armed forces of Pakistan that have rendered innumerable sacrifices for the security and sovereignty of the country.
Prime Minister Ashraf said, it is true that we have not been able to turn Pakistan into a land of all honey and milk in the past five years, but we have lessened the inherited problems and strengthened democracy so much, that no one will be able to derail it in future.
The Prime Minister said although the list of achievements of the government were innumerable, however pointed to a few. He said President Asif Ali Zardari pursued the policy of reconciliation of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto that laid the foundations for a politics of consensus.
The Prime Minister said it was the outcome of this policy of reconciliation that country’s first woman Speaker and Prime Minister were unanimously elected, through the 18th, 19th and 20th Constitutional amendments, the 1973 Constitution was restored to its original form.
He said almost entire legislation done during the period was through consensus and under the 7th NFC award, the provinces were given more financial resources, while long standing demand for political autonomy was also met.