Indonesian President Joko Widodo has called for a firm commitment to democracy, saying it is the only way to serve interests of masses, provide space to people in decision-making process, help maintaining political stability and achieve economic growth.
Addressing the joint sitting of Parliament here on Friday, Widodo, who became the second Indonesian President to address the joint sitting, said that the economy of a country or region can grow if there is political stability and security. Former Indonesian President Soekarno had addressed the Parliament of Pakistan in 1963. Widodo said economic activities will never take place if there is conflict or war, adding the 'conflicts and wars' benefit no one and people, mainly women and children, become most affected in such situations.
Referring to the challenges of terrorism, he said no country of the world is immune to it as the menace of terrorism takes place in almost all countries, including Indonesia and Pakistan. He said Muslims constitute the largest number of victims of terrorism, adding that 76 percent of terrorist attacks took place in Muslim countries, 60 percent of armed conflicts happened in Muslim countries and 67 percent refugees come from Muslim countries.
Widodo said weapons a military might is no solution to conflicts around the globe and arms race would continue to create tensions. He emphasized the need for resolving conflicts through talks and negotiations instead of finding solutions militarily. He said that both Pakistan and Indonesia have consistently been supporting the independence of Palestine. "Through this forum, I would like to reiterate to continue supporting our brothers and sisters in Palestine...let us continue supporting Palestinians in their struggle," he maintained.
In his welcome speech, Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq expressed hope that Indonesia will continue helping Pakistan in this regard, but contrary to expectations, the Indonesian President did not say a single word about Kashmiris' quest for their right to self-determination.
About his country's relations with Pakistan, he said that it is not a newly forged friendship. "Indonesia will always remember the support of the people of Pakistan towards Indonesia's struggles for independence...as a token of appreciation, in 17 August 1995 - coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Indonesian independence, the Republic of Indonesia conferred highest civil award - Adipurna Star - to Muhammad Ali Jinnah for his contributions in supporting Indonesia's independence," he added.
He said that just like Pakistan, Indonesia is also home to Hindus, Christians, Buddhist as well as members of other communities. "Indonesia is a pluralistic country...unity in diversity is our slogan in our life as a nation," he added. He called for strong commitment of each nation's elements - commitment to tolerate in order to maintain plurality and commitment for mutual respect so that democracy could function well.
"With democracy, political stability in Indonesia can be maintained. With democracy, economic growth is strong enough...reaching above 5% per year. With democracy, Indonesia's economy becomes one of the 20 largest economies in the world," he maintained. He stressed the need for contributing to world peace, saying, "Each and every one of us be the effort-contributor in prospering the world for the sake of humanity and justice. We must be a part of solution and not be part of the problem."
"Let us work together...for the creation of peaceful and prosperous world... in the name of all mankind living in this world," he added. In his welcome address the NA Speaker termed Widodo's address to the joint sitting historic. He said, "Relations between the two countries precede the birth of our two countries as we stood by each other during our respective freedom struggles."
The NA speaker said, "Our daunting challenge has been our fight against global terrorism, in which Pakistan has paid the heaviest price by rendering over 65,000 lives and bearing a loss of over $120 billion to its economy." He said that both the countries are threatened by the menace of terrorism - be it 2002 Bali bombings or the 2009 and 2016 Jakarta attacks or the gruesome 2016's Army Public School attack in Peshawar. "Terrorism and extremism are our common enemies," he added.
Except chief ministers of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, all the chief ministers were present; governor Sindh was absent while all other governors were present. The Chairman Joint Chief of Staff and chiefs of all forces were present during the sitting. A large number of ambassadors belonging to various countries were present in the gallery.
The overall attendance of the sitting remained thin. PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur REhman, PKMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai and some others also did not attend the meeting. Emir JI Maulana Sirajul Haq, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour of ANP, Maulana Mir Zaman of JUI-F and Abdul Rashid Godil of MQM-P went to the gallery where Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee, Chief of Army Staff, Air Chief and Naval Chief were sitting and shook hands with them.