ISLAMABAD, Sep 8 (APP): President Asif Ali Zardari completes two years of term in power on Thursday, with a number of landmark achievements to his credit including 18th amendment, 7th NFC award, political, development packages for Gilgit Baltistan and Balochistan. The President took over the reigns of the government at a time when there was a dismal state of economy, and law and order was a critical issue. The country lacked an overall direction, while the extremists openly violated the writ of the government.
His other landmark successes include the 7th NFC Award, Aghaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan, political reforms in Gilgit-Baltistan and FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), reconstitution of the Council of Common Interests, allocation of 120 billion rupees to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as net hydel profit, launching of Benazir Income Support Programme to alleviate poverty, increasing gas development surcharge for Balochistan, taking the militancy head on and Benazir Employees Stock Options Scheme (BESOS).
All these achievements reflected the desire of the President to take the country forward with a spirit of participation, consultation and equal opportunity in the formulation of government policy at strategic and implementation levels.
On April 19, President Asif Ali Zardari signed into law sweeping constitutional reforms stripping him of key powers in a move to bolster parliamentary democracy weakened by years of military rule.
The amendment rolled back decades of meddling by military rulers and ended the head of state’s power to sack the prime minister, appoint heads of the armed forces, unilaterally declare emergency rule and dissolve parliament.
“It is my hope that the doors of dictatorship are closed forever,” the President said after signing the 18th amendment.
“We have reason to feel proud… provincial rights and parliament’s sovereignty have been restored,” he said.
He said it was a dream of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto to cleanse the constitution of all undemocratic articles introduced into it by un-elected and autocratic regimes.
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, who assumed the new powers, hailed the signing of the bill as a “momentous occasion” and termed “it an unprecedented event in the political history of Pakistan” that a leader willingly transferred power in a smooth process.
The present government under the leadership of President Zardari also managed to achieve significant progress made on the democratic front, despite a major offensive in Swat and Malakand against militants and local Taliban.
It also goes to his credit to have sought international assistance to help in the return of around 2.5 million Internally Displaced Persons within three months.
President Zardari in a message on the completion of two years of democratic government had said “we have a future that promises dividends of peace, prosperity and development provided we stand firm on the course of democracy.”
It goes to the credit of President Zardari to bring the estranged friends in Balochistan back to the national fold through recognition, reconciliation, and restorative justice through the Aghaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan.
The President not only made frequent visits to Balochistan, but also held regular meetings to ensure that the decisions were being translated into reality so as to mitigate the sufferings of the masses.
It was also under his initiation that the democratic government gave the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa identities of their own.
The President firmly believes that by the end of the five-year term, a stronger and prosperous Pakistan will emerge, crowned with an impressive record of performance and achievements.
Hailing from an agrarian family, President Zardari had an in-depth understanding of the problems being faced by the farmers and increased the purchase price so as to help them lead a better life.
The government has given protection to women inside their homes, outside, and at places of their work; and empowering them to take control of their family’s resources.
Efforts for poverty alleviation remain at the heart of President’s strategy to reach out to the poorest of the poor under the Benazir Income Support Programme. His deep interest in helping the most neglected sections of the society is evident from his presence at all the events of BISP across the country.
The programme provides cash relief and now a Rs 3.9 billion program has been launched with a cash grant of Rs 12,000 for each flood affected family.
The government under President’s directives also restored workers’ rights, bringing back those who were thrown out of work places, and ensuring continuation of work for others. It is giving unprecedented freedom of expression, while also respecting and patiently tolerating dissent.
Under the new National Finance Commission, the Federation sacrificed its chunk of share along with reduction in collection charges from 5% to 1%. The Federation also slashed its 52.5% stake to 44% in this award, making it the first NFC Award with a national spirit to accommodate the demands of the smaller 4 provinces.
Another significant area where the President played a key role is the front against terrorism. President Zardari in his article in influential ‘The Financial Times’ said a democratic, strong and economically stable Pakistan, in partnership with Britain and the West, can emerge as a role model for one and a half billion Muslims.
He pointed out that terrorism was not just Pakistan’s problem and stability in central and south Asia depends on regional and international co-operation to attack the terrorist threat politically, economically and militarily.
“We must seek to undo the environment under which terrorists thrive, from hunger to hopelessness to poverty. And we should remember that as long as the human rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir remain unaddressed, peace and stability in the region will be elusive.”
The President in his meetings with foreign dignitaries also elaborated Pakistan’s role of a frontline state and informed of the loss of 2,700 soldiers, including senior officers, and more than 27,000 civilians.
“Collateral losses total more than $ 50 bn and are still being incurred at the expense of our economy and prestige. No one can match our determination, resilience and sacrifices. We do not need to be lectured as to how to conduct the war against violent extremism,” the President stated in his column.
“We want trade not aid, MOUs not IOUs,” remains the key slogan of President in all his interactions with foreign dignitaries and reflects the desire of the new political leadership to take the country out of years of neglect.
On the economic front President time and again stated that his party was determined to save the federation and rebuild the economy and vowed to reshape a new Pakistan.
It was under his vision that economic planning reduced the fiscal deficit, gross domestic product growth improved, while inflation decelerated, foreign investment and foreign exchange reserves increased.
Another major accomplishment of President Zardari was to organize an international consortium – Friends of Democratic Pakistan, aimed at helping the country out of its economic crisis and meet its security needs – APP