Joint session of parliament postponed on opposition’s request

Pakistan’s new President, Dr. Arif Alvi. (AP)
Updated 13 September 2018

Joint session of parliament postponed on opposition’s request

  • Delay follows demise of ex-PM Sharif’s wife Kulsoom
  • President Alvi was scheduled to address the session to mark beginning of new parliamentary year

ISLAMABAD: Following the death of ex-premier Nawaz Sharif’s wife Kulsoom Nawaz, Prime Minister Imran Khan has instructed that the joint session of parliament be postponed until Monday, on the opposition’s request.

Kulsoom died at the age of 68 in London, on Tuesday, after succumbing to a long battle with cancer. Her funeral is scheduled to be held on Friday.

President Dr Alvi was to deliver a speech on Thursday, in what would have been his maiden address, to to mark the beginning of the new parliamentary year. Dr Alvi was elected as the 13th president of Pakistan on September 4 and sworn in on September 9. 

As per the constitution, the president’s address is required at the commencement of the first session of the joint parliament each year. After winning the election, Dr Alvi had told reporters that during his term he would not be a “silent president” and would fulfill all responsibilities towards the development of the country. 

His predecessor, Mamnoon Hussain, faced heavy criticism from the media for not being proactive in this role. A dentist by profession, Dr Alvi is a close ally of PM Khan and one of the founding members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

In Pakistan’s parliamentary system, the president plays a largely ceremonial role, though he is both the head of the state and the commander of the country’s military. 

In 2010, the parliament passed the 18th amendment to the constitution which transferred significant powers from the president to the prime minister and also removed the president’s power to dismiss the parliament.

Pakistan ready to respond to a full spectrum threat — army spokesman

Updated 49 min 3 sec ago

Pakistan ready to respond to a full spectrum threat — army spokesman

  • Prepared to counter any attack from Indian security forces
  • Warns New Delhi against action; says Islamabad “would surprise you”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor warned India on Friday against any military action, saying that should New Delhi “show any aggression,” it would be Islamabad that would “surprise you”. 
He added in the same breath that “we do not wish to go to war”.
In his statement — which was in response to growing threats from its nuclear-armed neighbor — the spokesperson said that Islamabad was prepared to respond to a “full spectrum threat” without enabling its nuclear capability.
“Pakistan is not preparing for war. War and revenge threats are coming from you. We are a sovereign state and hold the right to respond to your threats. We are not preparing to initiate, but response and defense is our right and we will exercise that,” he said, adding that he hoped India “got the message”.
Ghafoor said Islamabad delayed its response to the Pulwama attack to investigate New Delhi’s baseless claims of state-sponsored terrorism to ascertain the veracity of the allegations, following which Prime Minister Imran Khan responded in a televised address to the nation on Tuesday wherein he rejected the assertion and warned New Delhi of retaliation if attacked.
He said that Khan has offered to assist India in investigating the attack if it can back its claims and would take strict measures against the person who is “an enemy of Pakistan”, an offer Ghafoor said has been given before as well. He added that “terrorism is a regional problem and Pakistan is willing to table talks with India on the matter”.
Ghafoor made the comments at a press briefing which came a week after a deadly suicide attack in the Pulwama district of Indian-administered Kashmir. The attack killed more than 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel and left scores injured.
Listing terror incidents of the past in India or Indian-administered Kashmir, Ghafoor said there is a pattern of occurrences of this nature adding that “when an important event for Pakistan is scheduled to happen, this type of stage action arises”.
The brazen bombing came before eight very important engagements for Pakistan, Ghafoor explained connecting India’s previous attempts to paint Pakistan as the sponsor of terrorism, hold its western neighbor responsible and push it toward diplomatic isolation.
“Saudi Crown Prince was due in Pakistan to hold a (historic) investment conference, talks on terror listing at United Nations Security Council was scheduled, development on Afghan peace reconciliation process was underway, discussions on human rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir at the European Union was due, the decisive hearing of (Indian spy) Kulbushan Jhadav case at the world court, a discussion on Financial Action Task Force was to take place for a decision on Pakistan, both sides (India and Pakistan) were to hold a meeting on the Kartarpur border crossing development, and Pakistan super league cricket matches [in which foreign players are participating] had begun,” he said.
The military spokesman questioned how cross border infiltration could have happened when the number of Indian security forces is larger than the population of Kashmiris. “India should ask its forces which have been there for seven decades and spent a huge quantum on defense, how infiltration occurred?” he said.
“The attack happened miles from the Line of Control (LoC), the explosives used were under use by Indian security forces and administration – it didn’t come from Pakistan. The vehicle used was local, not from Pakistan. The attack [was carried out ] by the young Kashmiri, who was resident of Indian-administered Kashmir,” Ghafoor said.
He added that Pakistan is the only country in the world that has not let terrorism take control of its narrative and has given ample sacrifices to counter it. He cited the example of Islamabad helping other nations eliminate Al Qaeda from Afghanistan.
Kashmir, he said, is the biggest issue of the region and offered India to resume talks on the matter. Being the world’s largest democracy, India needs “introspection” on the Kashmir issue and two democracies can’t afford war, he said.