Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday, while delivering a historic address on the independence day celebrations in Gilgit-Baltistan, paid special tribute to the martyrs of the region "who laid down their lives for Pakistan multiple times".
"On this day, I especially wish to pay tribute to the youth of Gilgit-Baltistan who sacrificed in Kargil, in the war against terrorism, and the heroes of 1947 and 1948," said Prime Minister Imran, who became the first premier to take part in the celebrations.
"Pakistan is not fully aware of what happened here in 1947, that the people here fought a war for independence, defeated the Dogra rule and got their freedom, and then fought in Skardu and Baltistan and gained independence there the next year in 1948."
He said that Pakistan is "a special gift granted to us by God". "Our rallying cry was Pakistan ka matlab kya? La illaha illallah."
"This means that we are the Prophet Muhammad's ummat. We are the only nation to have been formed on the name of Islam and thus carry a great responsibility on our shoulders. We must emulate the state of Madina. The state which was the Prophet's sunnah," said the premier.
"On this day of independence as I stand here, I want to say to the whole nation: we must follow those rules and the foundation that was laid then. And that's how we will progress. The two foundation stones on which the state of Madina rested are justice and law.
"These must be followed. You will then see how our country rises. You will see it will be a shining example in the world."
The prime minister also spoke of Kashmiris "who have been languishing under a curfew of the cruel Modi government, whose rights have been snatched, who have been kept prisoner not like humans but like animals with a 900,000-strong army".
"Today, I give them the message: The entire nation stands behind you and is praying for you."
The prime minister vowed to continue to raise his voice for the rights of Kashmiris. "I have already become your lawyer and spokesperson and I will fight your case in the entire world."
The premier took a moment to thank God that the people of GB "are not suffering from the oppression Kashmiris are facing".
"Modi, however, has played his last card. As soon as the curfew is lifted, a sea of people will come out to fight for their independence and God-willing, no one will be able to stop them from winning it," he avowed.
"On this day of independence that we are celebrating today, we must understand that if we hadn't fought this war, this place might have also been under the rule of Modi. This spirit to sacrifice is what gives us la illaha illallah.
"This is the spirit with which we shed the fear of death and leave everything to God. We must keep this spirit alive," he said. "God tells us whoever believes in him, he will free him of fear."
The prime minister recalled that he had last visited the region 52 years ago as part of a school trip.
"It was a small city then. There was no Karakoram Highway. The pathways were dangerous. I was afraid the jeep would plummet down as I would see a broken vehicle down in the chasm on short distances."
The premier thought back to how difficult it was for tourists then to travel to this region and praised the area residents for having marched on and risen to become such a thriving society.
"I have been everywhere, the most beautiful of places, but the beauty here is unmatched in the world," he declared.
"We have opened Pakistan to 70 countries whereby people will be now able to get visas on arrival. Tourism will see a manifold increase. You will have a bright future ahead," he told the citizens of GB.
"GB is the gateway to CPEC. The entire area will see unprecedented development."
After the prime minister's address, the Azadi Parade commenced and various regiments of the Army did a march past.
Earlier in the day, the premier had visited the monument of martyrs where he laid a floral wreath and prayed for all those who had sacrificed for the country.