ISLAMABAD, Aug 14: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has vowed to defeat terrorist forces and turn Pakistan into a cradle of peace with the nation’s support and cooperation of the army as well as other security institutions.
“The whole nation is united. We are in high spirits and will defeat the terrorists with full cooperation of the army and other national security institutions,” Mr Sharif said in a speech at a flag-hoisting ceremony at the Convention Centre on Wednesday to mark the Independence Day.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attended the ceremony on a special invitation of the prime minister.
The Senate chairman, National Assembly speaker, federal ministers, members of parliament, diplomats and senior civil and military officers were present on the occasion.
The prime minister said the government was cognizant of the people’s helplessness in the face of terrorism and extremism, adding that “such challenges come in the history of nations and they fight them with unity and courage”.
He said since Pakistan was a nuclear-weapon state and an important regional power, no decision about the region can be taken without taking it into confidence.
Nawaz Sharif referred to his recent visit to China, saying that the agreement for a trade corridor would change the geopolitical and economic scenario in the region as Pakistan would turn into a hub of trade and economic activities.
The prime minister said Pakistan’s greatest asset was its relatively young population as 60 per cent of the people were below the age of 30.
He said the voters’ verdict in general elections demonstrated the nation’s conviction that a bright future awaited the country.
“The country’s reconstruction and socio-economic development requires important decisions like ensuring the rule of law and putting the economy on the right track,” Mr Sharif said.
“All of us will have to contribute and make sacrifices to achieve this objective for the sake of our coming generations.”
He said the present government was working with sincerity to make Pakistan a progressive and welfare state as envisioned by the Quaid-i-Azam.He said it was the need of the hour to bring about “real democracy” and ensure transparency so that the country’s resources were properly utilised.
Mr Sharif said Pakistan was fulfilling its responsibilities at the international level and contributing a lot in the UN peacekeeping force, a fact recognised by the world and the presence of UN secretary general at the ceremony was testimony to that.
He thanked him for visiting Pakistan.
“It is a matter of honour and privilege that the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban-Ki moon, has joined us on our Independence Day.”
The prime minister recalled that the Quaid-i-Azam, while outlining the guiding principles of Pakistan’s foreign policy, had stated in Aug 1947: “We stand by the United Nations Charter and will gladly make our contribution to the peace and prosperity of the world.”
Over the past six decades “we have stood by the Charter of the United Nations, contributed to global peace through our efforts in the General Assembly and the Security Council and ensured global security and prosperity by contributing the largest number of troops to the UN peacekeeping operations”, Mr Sharif said.
He said: “On our independence day, we renew our pledge to continue playing our positive role in promoting global peace and security.”
Mr Sharif said democracy should be given a chance to flourish freely, adding that “we should determine our priorities on our own without internal or external pressures”.
He said the Quaid-i-Azam got a separate Muslim state from the united India on the basis of protecting the rights of a minority.
“Are the minorities (in Pakistan) satisfied? Are we fulfilling the Quaid’s pledge of August 11, 1947,” he posed a question.
He said the country’s founding fathers had visualised a progressive and welfare state which would be envy of the world. All segments of society should do some soul-searching before answering these questions, he added.
“If most of the answers are in the affirmative, then we should be satisfied. Otherwise we have to go for self-accountability and reforms.”
Prime Minister Sharif said he would take the nation into confidence in a few days about the security challenges and outline the salient features of his strategy.
“Today I have to tell you that with some apprehensions, we also have a hope, a dream of good future. Even today we have a lot with us, and we can establish a new world. Inshallah we will come out of this situation as we have the ability to make a fresh start. —APP