Pakistan began celebrating its landmark 70th Independence anniversary on Monday with commemorative ceremonies held in cities across the country.
The main ceremony of the day was held at Islamabad's Convention Centre, where President Mamnoon Hussain hoisted the Pakistani flag. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang — who is the chief guest — and all three chiefs of the armed services attended the ceremony.
The day began with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital along with a 21-gun salute in each provincial capital.
Flag hoisting ceremonies were held in the provincial capitals and district headquarters, and change of guard ceremonies were held at Mazar-i-Quaid and Mazar-i-Iqbal.
Later, Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani and speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq laid a floral wreath on the memorial of forgotten heroes of democracy inside the Parliament.
At the Wagah Border, Pakistan Rangers officials presented sweets to Indian Border Security Force personnel.
The largest-ever airshow in Pakistan's history was also held at Islamabad's F9 Park. The event, attended by President Mamnoon and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, will feature Pakistan Air Force, Turkish and Saudi jets.
"Solo Turk", the famous Turkish aerobatic team of Turkish Air Force, and the internationally acclaimed "Saudi Hawks" of Royal Saudi Air Force will be featured in the mega event alongside PAF aircraft.
'Sino-Pak friendship will stand the test of time'
Addressing the ceremony at the packed Convention Centre, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang congratulated Pakistan on its 70th Independence Day.
Yang said China and Pakistan have stood by each other in difficult times and "this friendship will stand the test of time and last for generations to come".
"Our friendship is higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel and sweeter than honey," he said, adding that China will work to strengthen strategic cooperation with Pakistan.
Yang said Pakistan has become a key player in the international arena and China considers it to be a key player in the development of the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project.
He recalled that both countries had helped each other in the hour of need.
"We will never forget that after the earthquake in Schichuan province, Pakistan was the first country to send aid via helicopters to the affected areas."
He said Pakistan has made great sacrfices in the fight against terrorism in recent years and has worked to establish peace in the region.
Messages from the president and PM
In his message on occasion of Pakistan's 71st Independence Day, President Mamnoon Hussain urged the nation to reiterate the resolve to always uphold the values of determination and dedication for the objective of development of Pakistan.
“Let us join hands for development and prosperity of the motherland by keeping aside our differences. Let us promote love and harmony by overcoming hatred and misgivings and secure the future of our nation by turning despondency into hope in order to celebrate freedom in its true sense,” he said.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in his message emphasised the need to strengthen the state institutions so that they can play their prescribed role within the limits of law and the constitution.
“We may belong to different tribes, fraternities and ethnicities; we may be working in different spheres of national life; our political vision and thinking can be different and our economic vision may have different perspectives but ascendancy of national interests and invincible defence are common objectives of the entire nation, for which we have to make collective endeavours,” he said.