President Asif Ali Zardari has said that he does not think that he has become powerless after signing of 18th amendment bill but the doors of dictatorship have been closed forever and no one think of subverting the constitution.
“Democracy is my power and I love democracy”, he said this while talking to media men and addressing the signing ceremony of 18th amendment constitutional bill here at Presidency.
Gone also are the days when state institutions upheld the subversion of the Constitution, he said.
“A lesson of today is that our Parliament is capable of delivering. It is also a lesson of today that we can achieve so much through reconciliation and by setting aside our personal egos”, he said.
The doors of dictatorship have been closed forever but risk are still there and incident like eruption of volcano can not be ruled out in future, he said. Our Prime Minister could not leave for Paris due to eruption of volcano in Iceland, he said.
Pakistan Peoples Party, he said, believed in democracy. Answering to a question, he said, he has transmitted all powers to Parliament. “I have never misused my authority in the capacity as country’s head of state and would not do so in future”, he said.
Earlier, addressing the ceremony, he said, “it is indeed a great honor for me to have signed into law this Bill that seeks to undo the undemocratic clauses introduced into the Constitution by undemocratic rulers”.
He congratulated all members of the Constitutional Reforms Committee and its Chairman Senator Mian Raza Rabbani for accomplishing this task.
He also congratulated all the political parties and their leaders for rising above party politics and agreeing to Constitutional reforms based on consensus Amendments. “It shows that our political parties and leaders are capable of rising above petty partisan considerations.
They have belied those who claim that our political leaders are unable to rise, unable to deliver”, he said.
Our political parties have demonstrated that they are capable of achieving great heights, he said, adding that, it is a measure of their patriotism that they have put aside personal and partisan considerations in a true national spirit
He realized that there were moments when some thought that the Amendments will not get passed from the Parliament and there were some people who feared that the Parliament would fail. “These were indeed anxious moments but collectively we resolved our differences and made history by restoring the 1973 Constitution.
Despite pitfalls and disappointments the nation has been able to achieve-Political ownership of the war against militancy and the beginning of retreat of militants and extremists, he said. Significant successes have been achieved in the war against militancy, the President said.
The Seventh National Finance Commission Award -Political Reforms in Gilgit-Baltistan-Aghaz-e-Huqooq-i-Balochistan -Reconstitution of the Council of Common Interest and many more successes are mean achievements of incumbent Government, Zardari said.
The Constitutional reforms Bill that he have signed into law is the first major Constitutional reform package during the last more than thirty years, he said.
“It is fundamentally different from piecemeal constitutional amendments that have been made from time to time in the past, The piecemeal amendments were forced upon the nation through executive order by un-elected rulers only to legitimize their rule. Those amendments were not introduced for the benefit of the people or the cause of democracy”, he added.
The credit for the first major constitutional overhaul goes to the democratic process and the policy of national reconciliation, he said.
It is a moment of great satisfaction- indeed of pride- that the Constitution has been made truly democratic and federal in character, and provincial rights and Parliamentary sovereignty have been restored, he said.
He said he is particularly delighted that the Seventeenth Amendment has been repealed.
“I am very happy that the people of Pukhtoonkhwah have finally got their identity- an identity that eluded them for the past many decades- as their province is renamed as Khyber Pukhtoonkhwah”, he said.
The ceremony here today and the gathering of the leaders and Parliamentarians of all political parties is a demonstration of the glory of democracy and power of reconciliation and it shows that democracy and reconciliation can work wonders, he said.
The Constitution that was first given to the people in 1973 had the backing of all political parties and provinces, he said.
The first major Constitutional Reforms Package after more than thirty years also is backed by all provinces and political parties, he said..
Just as the nation made great progress after the adoption of the unanimous Constitution in 1973, we hope that it will make similar progress after the adoption of the Constitutional Amendments, he hoped.
He hoped that the nation will once again be driven by a sense of purpose, just as it was, when the Constitution was adopted in 1973.
“Let us on this day pledge to pursue the path of reconciliation for the greatest good of the greatest number of people. Let us on this day also pledge that we will uphold the supremacy of the Constitution”, he said.
We have achieved a milestone in Constitutional reformation and in giving rights to the provinces, we must devote our full time and attention to the problems of the common people. These are problems of load shedding, unemployment, inflation and law and order, he said.
He called upon all political parties and leaders that just as they joined hands to reform the Constitution, they should now join hands in the same spirit to find solutions to the problems of ordinary citizens
We will pursue the path of reconciliation just as we decided to do even on the day when Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was martyred and some advised us to choose the path of confrontation, he maintained.
Quaid PML-N Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, Chairman Senate Farooq H. Naek, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms (PCCR) Mian Raza Rabbani, Speaker National Assembly Dr. Fehmida Mirza, Provincial Governors and Chief Ministers, Prime Minister AJK, President AJK, Federal Ministers and others attended the ceremony.
Judges including Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary, President PML-Q Ch. Shujat Hussain could not participate in the ceremony.
President signed the bill at 4:51 PM. After signing the historic bill, President Asif Ali Zardari hugged Quaid PML-N Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif. The house was also echoed with slogan “Jey Bhutto Zinda Hay Bibi Zinda Hay”.