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Pakistani president addresses parliament, chalks out blueprint
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10:52, September 21, 2008

Pakistani president addresses parliament, chalks out blueprint
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Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday made his maiden address to the parliament, pledging to review constitution amendment and fight terrorism.

"Never before in the history of this country has a president stood here and given away his powers," said Zardari before all the legislator. He announced to set up a special committee to review article 58-2 (B) and 17th Amendment of the constitution.

The controversial Article 58-2 (B), which former president Musharraf had inserted in the constitution in 2004, empowers the Pakistani president to dissolve parliament and appoint services chiefs and governors.

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari waves as he arrives for a news conference after his swearing-in ceremony in Islamabad September 9, 2008.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Zardari made it clear that the president and the government must always seek guidance from the parliament in carrying out their duties.

Zardari, widower of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, stood firm against terrorism and extremism.

"We must root out terrorism and extremism wherever and whenever they may rear their ugly heads," he said.

He elaborated on the strategy on fighting terrorism: first, to make peace with those who are willing to keep the peace and renounce violence; secondly, to invest in the development and social uplift of the local people.

"The use of force will only be a last resort against those who refuse to surrender their arms, take the law into their hands, challenge the writ of the government and attack security forces," he added.

But Zardari denounced the cross-border raids, saying Pakistan would not allow violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"Pakistan will not tolerate the violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity by any power in the name of combating terrorism," Zardari said.

Zardari made the remarks in an apparent reference to recent cross-border raids by the U.S.-led coalition forces from Afghanistan, which have sparked anger and criticism across the country.

On Pakistan's foreign policy, Zardari said "the foreign policy would be geared to not only defense of territorial integrity and sovereignty but also promotion of commercial and economic interests."

He said Pakistan will strengthen its brotherly relations with Iran and take its time-tested and all-weathered friendship and strategic partnership with China to greater heights.

"With the United States and our European partners we will endeavor to build a long-term partnership that is broad-based and mutually beneficial," he added.

On relations with India, Zardari said Pakistan has decided to resume the composite-dialogue process with India, driving its relations through enhanced trade.

Zardari said Pakistan is ready to resolve all the outstanding issues with India, including the disputed Kashmir issue.

Source: Xinhua

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