Pakistan celebrates 76 years of independence as leaders call for unity

Addressing the flag hoisting ceremony, President Alvi called for Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s message of “unity, faith and discipline” to be truly followed.


Students wave Pakistan’s national flags at the mausoleum of the country’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah, during Pakistan’s Independence Day celebrations in Karachi on August 14. PHOTO: AFP/ DAWN

August 15, 2023

ISLAMABADPakistan is celebrating 76 years of independence today (Monday) with patriotic zeal and fervour, with commemorative ceremonies being held in cities across the country.

The day dawned with a 31-gun salute in Islamabad and a 21-gun salute in the provincial headquarters.

Change of guard ceremonies were also held at Mazar-i-Quaid in Karachi and Mazar-i-Iqbal in Lahore.

President Alvi calls for unity

Further, a flag hoisting ceremony was also held at Convention Center in Islamabad where President Dr Arif Alvi was the chief guest while Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and former National Assembly speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf were also in attendance, Radio Pakistan reported.

Addressing the ceremony, President Alvi called for Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s message of “unity, faith and discipline” to be truly followed. He expressed confidence that Pakistan could become a developed country in a few years.

The president urged politicians and other stakeholders to embrace the path of forgiveness, stressing the importance of embracing Islam’s core values. “My demand to the leaders of this country is to be united,” he added.

Dr Alvi highlighted the necessity of breaking free from nepotism, promoting meritocracy, and ensuring comprehensive justice, particularly in the socio-economic sphere, in order to progress.

Regretting that 27 million children were out of school, he urged the affluent class to come forward and make arrangements for their education.

The president further emphasised the need for the greater participation of women in economic activities, noting that they “constitute almost half of the population”.

While paying tribute to the sacrifices made by “our forefathers in order to give an impetus to the struggle aimed at strengthening Pakistan”, President Alvi recalled the efforts made by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Allama Iqbal, the Quaid and Fatima Jinnah.

Reaffirming the commitment to continue the struggle against terrorism, the president noted that about 100,000 people had lost their lives in the war against terrorism.

On the occasion, President Alvi also talked about held Kashmir, urging the international community to pay attention to the resolution of the issue in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.

The president also expressed his gratitude to friendly countries — including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, China, Iran and Turkiye — for supporting Pakistan during difficult economic times.

Dr Alvi also strongly lamented the Islamophobic incidents in Western countries, referring to the multiple recent incidents of desecration of the Holy Quran in Sweden and Denmark.

In a separate message, President Alvi reiterated the need for national unity to surmount social, political, economic and security challenges.

“Let’s resolve that we will not hesitate to offer any sacrifice for the security, prosperity and development of the country,” the president said.

Alvi extended congratulations to all compatriots and urged a renewed commitment towards building a stronger, more prosperous Pakistan, as “envisioned by the Father of the Nation”.

“I urge my fellow countrymen to work for the welfare and uplift of deprived sections of our society. Let’s pledge to uphold the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance, forgiveness, socio-economic justice, and moral and ethical values, as enunciated by Islam,” the president said.

On this important day, the president said, the nation should also remember their oppressed brothers and sisters in held Kashmir, who have been facing Indian atrocities for decades.

“We stand with our Kashmiri brethren and assure them of unwavering and continuous political, diplomatic, and moral support for their legitimate right to self-determination,” he reiterated.

Story of Pakistan has yet to reach its culmination, says Shehbaz

Meanwhile, former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif said that while the country had defeated many odds and achieved milestones, the “story of Pakistan has yet to reach its culmination”.

“Pakistan’s story from its conception to reality is one of resilience and defiance. While the odds during the freedom movement were the heaviest, they have continued to challenge us in different ways during the course of the last 76 years. No matter how formidable, Pakistan has always prevailed upon them,” he said.

Shehbaz paid tribute to Quaid-i-Azam and the “hundreds of thousands of unsung heroes of the freedom movement for their selflessness, sacrifices and devotion to the cause of Pakistan”.

“The Quaid’s statesmanship was a critical factor in shaping Pakistan’s story,” he said.

“As we reflect on this day, we must summon our proverbial unity and solidarity to take the motherland forward, for a nation can’t be beaten if it awakens its unifying force.

“At the same time, we have to make the Quaid’s motto of ‘work, work and only work’ the guiding principle to rebuild Pakistan. Time has come that we graduate from rhetoric to action. Nothing short of it will work. Let us be included among those who complete Pakistan’s story,” the PML-N president said.

In a separate message, the former premier underlined the need to summon the spirit that marked the Independence Movement and employ the lesson of unity and self-belief to chart the way forward.

“There is no denying the importance of many milestones we have achieved in the last seven and a half decades, often against opposing circumstances. We have faced the worst natural disasters, conflicts and wars and always managed to build back better,” he said.

Shehbaz extended his heartfelt congratulations to the entire nation, including overseas Pakistanis, on the occasion of Independence Day.

“Today, we pay rich tributes to the men, women and children who got together under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah to struggle for the creation of a land they could call home,” he added.

In this process, the former prime minister said, they set a magnificent example of dedication and devotion to the cause of Pakistan.

Furthermore, Shehbaz stated that on this day, the nation stands in unwavering solidarity with the oppressed people of held Kashmir, who are persistently fighting for their right to self-determination.

Armed forces pledge to preserve peace, harmony

Meanwhile, the military leadership urged the nation to preserve and strengthen peace, societal harmony and unity among the nation, Radio Pakistan reported.

“We should pledge on this day that irrespective of the challenges we face today, we will preserve and strengthen the peace, societal harmony and unity among the nation,” a statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations said.

The Pakistan Army vowed to not let “inimical forces succeed, which are hell-bent to create fissures and division among the armed forces and [the] people of Pakistan”.

It resolved that with the support of the nation, the army would “always defend the territorial integrity and peace of the motherland and continue to serve the nation as per the aspirations of the people of Pakistan”.

On the occasion, it noted that the day reminded us of the “vision, fortitude and countless sacrifices which our ancestors offered to realise our elders’ and [the] great Quaid’s dream of a free and independent country”.

The ISPR stated that “thousands of sons of [the] soil have laid down their lives for [the] defence of the motherland and to preserve the cherished dream of freedom of our forefathers”.

Former foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said, “Let us commit to forging a Pakistan where the avenues to prosperity are open to all, regardless of circumstance.

“A Pakistan where the aspirations of our youth are realised. A Pakistan where we are stronger for our diversity. A Pakistan for everyone.”

In a separate message, Bilawal paid tribute to the freedom struggle led by the Quaid.

He recalled that former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was also his grandfather, “taught us that ’neither mine nor yours, Pakistan belongs to all of us”.

“God-willing, we will move ahead with this ideology and defeat the politics of hatred and division,” the PPP chairman vowed.

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