ISLAMABAD: The nation celebrated on Friday Independence Day with zeal and fervour not seen over the past few years and the government’s renewed pledge to eradicate terrorism and extremism.
The celebrations started with 31-gun salute in the federal capital and 21-gun salute in provincial capitals.
At Friday prayers, people prayed for prosperity‚ integrity and solidarity of the country‚ unity of Muslim Umma, success of long-drawn struggle of the people of Kashmir and eradication of terrorism.
Nation celebrates Independence Day with a zeal not seen over past few years
Flag-hoisting ceremonies were held in Islamabad, provincial capitals and district headquarters.
The main event of the day was a flag-hoisting ceremony at the Convention Centre in Islamabad where President Mamnoon Hussain hoisted the national flag.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif and National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq attended the ceremony.
However, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani was conspicuous by his absence.
Sources said he did not attend the ceremony because of his dissatisfaction over the seating arrangement. According to the protocol, he was supposed to sit next to the president by virtue of his office, but he was asked to sit somewhere else.
Attempts made to contact Mr Rabbani for his comments did not succeed.
Other participants included the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee, the services’ chiefs, ambassadors and senior government officials.
President Hussain said terrorists had challenged the writ of the state while some elements working for foreign interests had disrupted peace in some parts of the country.
“However, the government has been facing the challenges with absolute political resolve which has been coming to fruition. I assure the nation that this operation will continue till objectives are achieved,” he said.
The president said personnel of armed forces and law- enforcement agencies and even schoolchildren, particularly of Peshawar’s Army Public School, had rendered immense sacrifices.
He said it was satisfying to note that the entire nation stood united against terrorism and extremism and backed the government and armed forces. “The militants are being eliminated and the government would shortly resolve these issues,” he added.
The president said Pakistan wanted ties with neighbouring countries, including India, on the basis of peaceful co-existence, but there would be no compromise on the issue of national security and defence in case of any threat.
He regretted that some untoward incidents had recently taken place on the eastern borders.
“We want to resolve all disputes with India, including Kashmir, through dialogue,” he said.
The president said the fluttering national flag reminded him of the sacrifices rendered by the founders of Pakistan, who had broken the shackles of slavery.
He said the level of the passion during the Pakistan Movement could be judged from the letters written to Quaid-i-Azam by children.
President Hussain read out three such letters in which schoolchildren had said they had donated (for the cause of Pakistan) their pocket money or money saved by compromising their meals and assured Quaid-i-Azam of their support during the struggle.
“Today’s Pakistan also needs similar passion to rebuild the country in accordance with the dreams of our forefathers. If we look at the crises Pakistan faces today, most of them are caused by illiteracy. Narrow-mindedness, extremism and terrorism are linked to it. Promotion of modern sciences is essential to deal with it (illiteracy),” he added.
He called for being tough with corrupt elements in the society and said the government was striving to rid the country of economic instability. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor being developed with Chinese collaboration is a vital project in bilateral and regional terms.
He said negative and subversive elements had tried to harm national unity, the constitution and democracy, but the nation was resolved to foil their designs and stabilise the country ideologically, politically and economically.
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Humera Arshad, Fakhir and other prominent singers presented national songs and enthralled the audience comprising students, armed forces personnel and people from different walks of life.
A cricket match was played between the Pakistan Eleven and Army Eleven and won by the latter. The event was inaugurated by Gen Raheel Sharif who greeted the T-20 national team skipper Shahid Afridi with a boundary.
The Independence Day was also celebrated by Pakistani missions abroad.
Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2015