Empowering people and provinces by Government to strengthen country: President

President Asif Ali Zardari

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari Tuesday said that it was his priority to empower people and provinces for strengthening Pakistan and safeguarding future of the coming generations.

“The first thing I did after assuming office was to create consensus in the Parliament for the empowerment of the people,” the President said while addressing the second ‘Pakistan Leaders of Tomorrow’ conference here at Aiwan-e-Sadr. It was organised by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the special initiative of President Zardari.He said that he voluntarily gave all the powers of the Presidency to the Parliament in order to strengthen democracy in the country.

Referring to geo-strategic environment, the President said that the attempts were being made to weaken Pakistan, but he strengthened federating units in order to strengthen the country, promote unity and harmony, and to counter those designs.The President said the Government not only pursued policy of reconciliation at home but also took steps to improve its relations with the neighboring countries.He said the Government, from day one, has emphasized on “trade not aid” to address Pakistan’s economic problems.

“We believe in increased trade as it contributes to peace and development,” he added.The President said Pakistan was facing a great challenge from the mindset that attacked Malala Yousafzai in Swat.He urged the youth to take up the challenge and fight this mindset as it is threatening the country and the future generations.Appreciating the potential of youth in Pakistan, the President said it is time that every one should not think what the country has given to him but every one should think “what we have given to the country”.

The President said, “Energy is the driver of economy and growth but we are facing energy crisis”. He said without blaming anyone for the present ills and the current situation, it was important that leaders of today take the responsibility to address the problem.The later part of the President’s speech turned into an interactive session when the President invited the students to ask questions.Referring to his voluntarily transfer of powers to the Parliament, the President said he even transferred the control of the nuclear power and entrusted it to the parliament.

He said collective wisdom is always better than individual wisdom, therefore, the PPP always adopted the policy of reconciliation and empowered the parliament which is the true representative of the people of Pakistan.The President said every Pakistani was patriotic. Referring to the qualities and potential of the youth, he said, the youth could play an effective role in confronting the present challenges.Relying to the questions, the President said Pakistan has very clear policy on the drone attacks adding that the Government has taken a number of steps to provide relief to the affected people.

He said that the affected areas in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and FATA  have been allocated more development funds as compared to previous years.The President said, “we have to find solution to the drone issue through diplomatic means”.Replying to a question about how the youth could become a leader, the President said, “there is no short cut to success”. He said if the people around any leader considered him or her as the leader, then he/she is a leader. The President, on this occasion, mentioned Shaheed Benazir Bhutto saying that she was leader as people around her considered her as their leader.

He said hard work and dedication coupled with struggle and sacrifice were essential to becoming a leader.Replying to another question about recent attack by Israel on Palestine, the President said Pakistan has strongly condemned this attack. He said the Foreign Office has issued a strong condemnation on this issue while the Pakistani leadership also issued similarly statements.

Regarding poverty alleviation, he said, Benazir Income Support Programme is meant for empowerment and helping the poor families especially the women. Presently over 70 million are being benefitted from this Program, he said.On the security issues, the President said that maintaining law and order was a provincial subject, however, the Federal Government was providing all out help and assistance to the provinces to improve law and order situation. – APP