Parliament’s joint session after SAARC summit: Jamali
* Prime Minister congratulates nation on vote of confidence for president
* Will expand cabinet after summit, believes assemblies will not be dissolved
By Shahzad Raza
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali on Thursday said that a joint session of parliament for the president’s address would be summoned after the South Asian summit.
“After the summit, we will discuss holding a joint session of parliament,” he told journalists at his chamber in Parliament House after the National Assembly (NA) session. Under Article 56 of the Constitution, the president may address both the houses of parliament. The opposition claims that the parliamentary year formally begins with a president’s address to parliament.
The prime minister brushed aside apprehensions that the president would dissolve the NA exercising his power under Article 58 (2-b) of the Constitution, arguing that governments had been dismissed without Article 58 (2-b). Mr Jamali said President Musharraf had promised that he would never exercise his power under the article.
The PM said that federal cabinet would be expanded after the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit. “We could have done it earlier but certain developments stopped us,” he added.
Mr Jamali congratulated the nation on the successful vote of confidence for President General Pervez Musharraf, saying the vote in the Senate, NA and provincial assemblies had strengthened the president.
Asked whether the vote of confidence would make President Musharraf stronger in the forthcoming summit, he said after getting legitimacy from parliament no one in the conference would raise the issue of a uniformed president.
He said the government would keep on trying to take the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy and other opposition parties into confidence. He said the government wished to have cordial relations with the opposition parties to strengthen democracy in the country. Asked whether the government was in favour of Maulana Fazalur Rehman, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) secretary general as opposition leader, Mr Jamali vaguely replied that they would discuss the matter with the NA speaker and the opposition parties.
The PM said the foreign offices of both India and Pakistan were negotiating to hold meetings between Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, himself and President Musharraf.
About the ongoing investigations into the assassination attempt on the president, he said the investigating teams had made an important breakthrough in the case, but didn’t give any further details.