President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday said all the state institutions of Pakistan, including parliament, army and judiciary, are on the same page with a united approach of ensuring rule of law and social justice for the people. “Our state institutions are in unison and pursuing the same vision of overcoming challenges confronting the country,” the president said in his address to the joint sitting of parliament on the start of new parliamentary year. The joint session of Senate and National Assembly was convened by President Alvi in exercise of his powers under Article 54(1) of the constitution. Prime Minister Imran Khan, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and parliamentarians attended the session.The president, in his address, touched upon several issues, from the government’s pro-active foreign policy, strategy to deal with coronavirus pandemic, improvement in economic situation and launch of social welfare projects, which, he said, had altogether put the country on path to prosperity. He said Pakistan was literally at its tipping point of emerging as a forward-looking nation. “Pakistan is seeing a bright future, favouring development and innovation for the first time in its history,” he added. “We should look back on the past two years to see what has been done, what will be done and what should be done,” he said, and congratulated the people of the country for fighting terrorism. “Another achievement is that you provided shelter to Afghan refugees. Other countries preach about human rights but don’t let even 10 migrants enter their countries,” he said, adding that Pakistan has shown its open-heartedness.The president said that ‘positive news’ is not highlighted in the country by the media. “If I have a child, I will encourage them, let them know they have done a good job and that they can do better instead of telling them they have done this or that wrong,” he said. Referring to the coronavirus pandemic, the president said that initially there was a lot of fear mongering that the ‘people will die in the streets’. “Across the Muslim world, Taraweeh prayers and daily prayers at mosques were banned [for fear of the virus spreading]. But we worked with our religious scholars and continued with prayers at mosques. When there is a will to take care of the vulnerable segment of society, there is success,” he said, adding that now the world is recognising the government’s response to the pandemic. “Today, the world is giving our example. I don’t remember the last time I heard something like that,” he remarked.The president also touched upon the government’s Ehsaas programme, introduced to provide those most affected by the fallout from the virus with cash stipends. “I commend the premier and the government for standing by their Covid-19 response despite criticism from the opposition,” he said. Turning to the country’s economy, President Alvi said Pakistan’s current account deficit has reduced despite the coronavirus wreaking havoc. “Our ratings by Moody’s and Fitch have improved, showing us that they think the country’s situation looks good,” he said. “It shows that the government’s policies are working, and if the coronavirus had not emerged, it would have managed to take it to new heights,” he added.Commenting on occupied Kashmir, the president said that it is only due to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s efforts that the matter was taken up by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) thrice during the past year. “This is your victory,” he said.He also lauded the premier for his strong remarks on Israel, in which he stated that Pakistan would not recognise it as a state until Palestine is freed. “Such bold statements give strength to other countries,” he said.The president also congratulated the parliament for helping the government pass bills aimed at removing the country from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list. “The opposition made so much noise last year […] I thought this time they would listen,” said Alvi, referring to the walkout. Congratulating the parliament on passing the FATF bills, he said “this is what a parliament is supposed to do”. “We want easy and quick justice for the people and zero compromise on corruption. We also want to overcome all hindrances in the way of the country’s development,” he said.Earlier, members of the opposition shouted slogans and voiced their protest as National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser invited the president to speak. Shortly after, some members of the opposition staged a walkout and held a press conference outside Parliament House.