b) stabilizing the country's economy;
c) creating a government of inclusion, and
d) combating extremism and creating a culture of moderation.
Following the assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007, President Zardari, who was Co-Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) at the time, told a shocked and mourning nation, 'Pakistan khappay'. This slogan helped transform national grief and anger into a resolve to turn Pakistan into a democratic federation; a peaceful, prosperous and tolerant society; and a viable State capable of establishing the rule of law, and delivering basic services to its citizens. Since the February 2008 general elections, these elements have become a guiding light for all of the Government's policies and decisions from the formation of a coalition government to restoring democracy in the Constitution to protecting human rights. President Zardari's election was a watershed event that solidified Pakistan's democracy, ending a reign of military rule. Much work has been put in place to build on that historic moment. Through the 18th amendment the President has voluntarily surrendered his power to the Parliament. However, he still plays a key role in the affairs of the state as Co-Chairman of the PPP, which is currently in power. Pakistan's history has been marked by political confrontation since its inception. For the first time, political consensus and harmony flourish in the government today. The President has actually implemented Benazir Bhutto's policy of reconciliation and taken all parties, opponents and allies, on board to take on the current challenges and work together for political stability in the country.
5th address to joint sitting of Parliament - President Asif Ali Zardari became the first elected Head of State to address the joint sitting of the Parliament for the fifth consecutive year of its term on March 17, 2012. This achievement was a landmark in the government's mission to strengthen democracy in the country. In his historic address, the President touched a number of areas ranging from democracy to historic legislation, and from issues of economy and power shortage to the government's landmark achievements.
The 18th, 19th and 20th Amendments - President Zardari recognised the need to adjust the constitution and roll back distortions introduced to change the Constitution during the dictatorial regimes of the past. At the cost of the powers of the presidency, the 18th Amendment proposed to empower the prime minister in line with the original 1973 Constitution. It envisaged a participatory federal system; and proposed new safety valves to discourage military coups in the future. While addressing the ceremony after according assent to the amendment on April 19, 2010, President Zardari said, "It is indeed a great honour for me to have signed into law this bill that seeks to undo the undemocratic clauses introduced in the Constitution by undemocratic rulers. The doors of dictatorship have been closed forever." This initiative of restoring power to the Parliament by the President was further reinforced by signing the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on the first day of the following year, which he called "democracy's New Year's gift to the nation". The 19th Amendment Bill, while envisaging a new system for appointments in the superior courts, aimed at neutralising a probable source of conflict between the judiciary and the executive. Yet another landmark development in strengthening democracy was made when the President signed the 20th Amendment into Constitution on February 28, 2012. The 20th Amendment set down a process to install a caretaker setup in order to ensure free, fair and transparent elections under an independent election commission. The unanimous passage of 18th, 19th and 20th amendments restored a genuine parliamentary system in the country and ensured more autonomy to the provinces. See the full text of the Constitutional Amendments here
Freedom of Press - Beginning with abolishing the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) 'black laws' introduced by the last authoritarian regime in November 2007, the People's Government encouraged the democratic dissent of media. Instead of 'content policing', the Government encourages the need towards self-regulation by the media industry, working journalists and media organizations.
Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan - "I have come to Balochistan with a message of peace and brotherhood," said Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto while addressing an election rally in Dera Allahyar, just seven days before her martyrdom. During her campaign visit to Quetta in December 2007, she said that the PPP would give equal rights to all the provinces and exploitation would be ended to enable the people of Balochistan to move forward with honour. These words resonated again when, prior to his election, President Zardari extended a public apology in February 2008 to the people of Balochistan. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto's promise and President Zardari's apology turned into concrete policy recommendations for the Joint Sitting of the Parliament when Senator Mian Raza Rabbani presented a set of comprehensive proposals titled 'Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan' (AHB) on November 24, 2009. This included an immediate release of political workers and political dialogue with major stakeholders in the province. It also proposed a fact-finding commission to investigate the circumstances that led to the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti; a judicial inquiry into the killing of three Baloch nationalist leaders; stopping the construction of cantonments in Sui and Kohlu; withdrawing the Armed Forces from these areas; limiting federal agencies' operations to terrorists; and tracing missing citizens. The Government also accepted Balochistan's demand regarding payment of Rs.120 Billion royalty that it collected from the sale of gas between 1954 to1991. The recruitment process of providing additional jobs to the educated youth of the Province has already been initiated and towards this end 11,500 jobs financed by the Federal government have been created. Furthermore, the 7th NFC Award enhanced Balochistan's share from 5.1% to 9.09% on account of the Divisible Pool and Fund Transferring.
International Conventions on Civil and Political Rights - On April 17, 2008, President Zardari signed the Instrument of Ratification for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention Against Torture (CAT) that made Pakistan join the countries that have signed and ratified all the International Conventions relating to good governance, sustainable development and human rights. On March 24, 2010, the Cabinet approved the ratification of the conventions. The Instrument of the Ratification signed by the President was formally deposited in the United Nations.
Federally Administered Tribal Areas Reforms – On August 14, 2009, President Zardari announced political reforms in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. These reforms lifted a ban on the activities of political parties, which had deprived the inhabitants of FATA from forming political parties and the right to association and freedom of speech. Additionally, the reforms envisaged changes in the century-old Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) to make it responsive to human rights, such as curtailing the powers of arbitrary arrest and detention without the right to bail. Furthermore, judiciary reforms were also proposed, such as setting up the FATA Tribunal with powers similar to those of the high courts so that the tribunal will have powers of revision of orders and judgments of the appellate authority.
As a nation, we face challenges, some of them undeniably tough, like the threat of extremism, a troubled economy, a...