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Pakistani President Zardari's fifth address to the joint session of the Parliment

Written By Ali Awan on Saturday, 17 March 2012 | 03:57

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari made history on Saturday when he delivered the fifth consecutive address to a joint session of Parliament. Zardari is the first president of Pakistan to deliver a fifth address in accordance with clause 3 of Article 56 in the Constitution.
2:12pm
Zardari lauds the government’s efforts to empower the provinces, particularly Gilgit Baltistan, Fata and Balochistan. He cites development projects as achievements of the government.
Speaker of the house calls on parliamentarians to “maintain sanctity of the house” as opposition chants continue.
Boos and cat calls echo in parliament.
2:08pm
Zardari says Islam, a religion of peace and harmony has been exploited. He says the government has used force where necessary to fight terrorism.
“I salute all those who have laid their lives to secure the future of our nation.”
2:05pm
Zardari says the government worked together to restore the 1973 constitution, supremacy of the parliament has been assured.
President says he relinquished his powers, which was a historic step.
“Today PM and chief execute enjoy full authority as acquired by law.”
President Zardari lists challenges the government faced, saying the PPP government inherited a country at war.
“We tried to meet the aspirations of the people” says Zardari.
2:00pm
The world can see the march of democracy goes on, says Zardari.
“During this leadership, we will see free and fair elections”.
The president’s speech is being drowned out by a ruckus in the assembly.
Chants of “loot maar band karo” begin. Desk banging ensues.
1:50pm
The joint session of parliament begins with the national anthem.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif and Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad are not present.
1:30pm
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has reached Parliament house.
All provincial governors have also arrived for Zardari’s address, which is expected to start soon.
1:22pm
MQM leaders have arrived to take part in the joint session of parliament.
The coalition partners are in a meeting to discuss points to raise regarding the government’s performance. The opposition is expected to attack the government on this very point.
1:15pm
Express News reports that the opposition plans to attend the assembly wearing black arm bands as a sign of protest.
The opposition has also decided to engage in vocal protests and create a ruckus during the session.
12:45pm
Opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar, speaking to The Express Tribune termed the President’s upcoming address as “a victory of democracy, its a good omen for Pakistan.”
Foreign ambassadors and diplomats will be arriving for the speech.
Members of parliament are streaming into the assembly.
High security alert in the city has caused a lot of difficulty for citizens.
The Red Zone has been completely closed off to the public.
12:20pm
Tight security has been put in place for the joint session of parliament, both around the parliament house and across the capital.
12:15pm
The address is scheduled to start at 1:20-2pm.
Members of the opposition are holding a meeting at 12:30pm. It has been reported that the PML-N will attempt to disrupt the President’s speech with desk thumping, slogan chanting and prepared speeches.
The MQM is expected to take part in the parliamentary session after a phone call by President Zardari last night convinced the coalition partner to call off its boycott.

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