ISLAMABAD: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Friday said not weapons but democracy was the best way to solve problems and serve the people’s interests. “Conflicts and wars will benefit no one. I repeat, conflicts and wars will benefit no one. The people, mainly women and children, always become the most impacted ones in conflicts and wars,” President Widodo said while addressing the joint sitting of parliament here.
The session was chaired by National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq and attended by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani, parliamentarians and the three services chiefs. He said besides impacting the people, conflicts and wars also destroyed the values of humanity.
Widodo, who started his speech with the slogan of ‘Pakistan Zindabad (Long Live Pakistan)’, also strongly advocated for democracy believing that “democracy is the best way serving our peoples’ interests. Democracy provides the space for the people in decision-making process.”
President Widodo said in 1963, President Soekarno ignited the spirit to fight against colonialism as well as the spirit of cooperation between newly-independent countries. “Fifty five years later, the President of the Republic of Indonesia is honoured once again to speak before the parliament of Pakistan,” he said.
“I would like to use this opportunity to ignite cooperation for the world’s peace and prosperity.” He said the friendship between Indonesia and Pakistan was not a newly-forged friendship, as his country would always remember the support of the people of Pakistan towards Indonesia’s struggles for independence.
The Indonesian president told the joint sitting that as a token of appreciation, on August 17, 1995, coinciding with the 50th Anniversary of the Indonesian Independence, Indonesia had conferred First Class Adipurna Star on Pakistan’s Father of the Nation Mohammad Ali Jinnah for his contribution towards supporting Indonesia’s independence.
Widodo said besides having decades-old friendship, the two countries had much in common with both being the biggest Muslim populations, members of D-8, OIC, Non-Aligned Movement, the initiators of Asia-Africa Conference and “most importantly, we are both democratic countries.”
Speaking about Palestine, he said both Pakistan and Indonesia consistently supported the independence of Palestine.
“At this forum, I would like to call once again for us to continue supporting our brothers and sisters in Palestine. Let’s continue supporting Palestine in their struggles.”
He said just like Pakistan, apart from being home to Muslims, Indonesia was also home to Hindus, Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists as well as the others making it a pluralistic country. Widodo said Indonesia had been able to preserve its unity despite being very plural with a large population and more than 17,000 islands and with 1,340 ethnicities.
He said the Indonesian people lived their lives as a nation in a democratic manner, adding that most people understand that managing diversity was not an easy thing, nor managing democracy.
“What we need is commitment…commitment to tolerate in order to maintain plurality; commitment for mutual respects so that democracy could function well,” he remarked. President Widodo is on his first visit to Pakistan along with a delegation comprising ministers and the businessmen.
President Widodo is the second president of Indonesia to address the joint sitting, as first Indonesian president Dr. Ahmed Soekarno addressed the National Assembly of Pakistan on June 26, 1963.
He is the 17th foreign dignitary to address the joint parliamentary session. The others who addressed the sitting included leaders from Iran, Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Palestine, France, China, Britain, Turkey.
Earlier, welcoming the Indonesian president, Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said Pakistan and Indonesia cherished deep bonds of history, religion and culture. He said an everlasting peace in South Asia required a just and peaceful solution to this unresolved issue in accordance with the aspirations of Kashmiri people and in light of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
The speaker said Pakistan hopes that friends like Indonesia will continue helping it in this regard. “As members of the United Nations, the OIC, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Parliamentary Union of OIC Member States and other international and regional forums, we have been supporting each other on all issues of common concern and interest.”
Ayaz said the recent years had seen enhanced people-to-people contacts between our two countries, which had opened new avenues of cooperation in higher education, cultural exchanges, bilateral trade and investment opportunities on both sides.
He said Pakistan has paid the heaviest price by rendering over sixty-five thousand lives and bearing a loss of over 120 billion dollars to its economy. Meanwhile, President Mamnoon Hussain Friday hosted a banquet in the honour of Indonesian president and members of his entourage at the President House.
The event was attended among others by Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq, parliamentarians, three services chiefs, diplomats, media persons and senior officials. In the backdrop of light folk tunes, the Indonesian president was served with traditional local delicacies.
Earlier, the two leaders met a long line of dignitaries who warmly shook hands with the two presidents. President Mamnoon Hussain also took up with Joko Widodo the issue of Zulfiqar Ali, a Pakistani citizen imprisoned in an Indonesian jail.
Zulfiqar, who is on death row in Indonesia, has been diagnosed with stage 4 terminal cancer. President Mamnoon asked the dignitary to consider the matter on humanitarian grounds. In response, the Indonesian president said though it was a legal matter, yet they would look into it on humanitarian grounds, respecting his desire.