ISLAMABAD, Dec 31: President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday accorded his assent to the 17th constitutional amendment bill which was passed by the National Assembly and the Senate by more than the required two-thirds majority. After the presidential nod, the bill has become a part of the Constitution.

The president will now be able to address a joint sitting of parliament which he had been unable to do because of the government-opposition wrangling over the LFO.

Meanwhile, President Musharraf has described the incorporation of the 17th amendment to the Constitution as historic, and said it would go a long way in imparting permanence to the democratic system and allow parliament to complete its constitutional tenure.

He was speaking to the members of both houses of parliament belonging to the PML-Q and its allied parties, who called on him at his camp office in Rawalpindi on Wednesday.

The president said this system was framed for the country and stability of democracy. He said he was sure there would be political stability and parliament would complete its tenure of five years after the passage of the 17th amendment bill.

Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Jamali, who was accompanying the coalition parties MPs, thanked the president for making it possible for the government and the MMA to arrive at a consensus on the issue of LFO.

He said the president's gesture would go a long way in promoting and strengthening democracy in the country. The prime minister said now that the constitutional wrangling was over he and his colleagues would focus on economic development of the country.

The president congratulated both the government and the MMA on what he termed a landmark agreement on the LFO, and urged the elected representatives to focus on a governance that was free from corruption and nepotism.

He said corruption and nepotism were the hallmarks of some of the governments in the past which ultimately wrecked the national institutions. The president said the government must ensure good governance at this stage to drive the country to a sustained economic progress.

He said the elected representatives had the responsibility to lead the nation in staying above all other considerations and keep national interests supreme.

Highlighting the importance of putting the right man in the right place, the president asserted that it was due to this very fact that national institutions like PIA, Pakistan Steel, Pakistan Railways and Pakistan National Shipping Corporation came out of stagnation and became profit-making organizations in the last few years.

The president also mentioned initiation of mega projects which, on completion, would generate massive employment opportunities and help in reducing poverty.

President Musharraf also reiterated special role of elected representatives in curbing and controlling extremism in the society, and projecting a true picture of Pakistan and Islam as a progressive and moderate religion.

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