(MANEND NEWS): Pakistanis are celebrating today (Saturday) the country’s 75th year of Independence with traditional zeal and fervour, with commemorative ceremonies held in cities across the country.
The celebrations began with change of guard ceremonies held at Mazaar-i-Quaid and Mazaar-i-Iqbal in Karachi and Lahore, respectively, and a 31-gun salute in the capital, followed by 21-gun salutes in all four provincial capitals, reported Radio Pakistan.
‘Pakistan has potential to become a developed nation’
The main feature of the celebrations was the flag-hoisting ceremony at Aiwan-e-Sadr in Islamabad.
President Dr Arif Alvi, who was the chief guest at the event, congratulated the nation on the completion of 74 years of Independence on the occasion.
Addressing the ceremony, he said, “today we realise the difficulties that were faced in the course of [Pakistan’s] freedom,” and paid tribute to the leaders of the freedom movement, including Allam Iqbal, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan.
“It is due to their sacrifices that we are here today,” he said.
The president said that over the past 74 years, “three wars were forced upon us”.
“There is an ongoing race for weapons in the region and Pakistan has been [deliberately] trapped,” he said, adding that despite this challenge, Pakistan, which was essentially an agricultural country, managed to meet its food requirements and was now on the way to becoming an industrial country. He said the country was also making advancements in the area of information technology.
Recounting Pakistan’s accomplishments of the past years, he said when India conducted a nuclear explosion in 1974, Pakistan managed to create a nuclear deterrent within just seven years after that.
Moreover, the president said, Pakistan had been fighting terrorism after the situation worsened in Afghanistan.
“We sacrificed around 100,000 lives and lost around $150 billion, but came out [of that war] victorious.”
He lauded Pakistan’s armed forces and police for bravely fighting terrorism and “setting an example”.
The president further stated that “we all are witnesses to [the actions] of nations that claim to be the champions of human rights”.
“Compare them with Pakistan… they let refuge drown in seas and rivers but don’t give them refuge. Pakistan, [on the other hand], gave refuge to 3.5 million refugees.”
He added that the nation had stood strong in the face of multiple challenges.
The president also appreciated the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and launching the Ehsaas programme, appealing to citizens to observes Covid-related standard operating procedures.
“Our success against the coronavirus is our strength,” he said, adding that while the country battled the pandemic on the principles of welfare, its economy also progressed.
He said Pakistan had the potential to become a developed country and encouraged citizens to work towards it.
The president also drew the attention of the international community towards India’s atrocities in occupied Kashmir and expressed solidarity with the people of the valley.
“They [the Indian government] is moving towards genocide,” he said, adding that due to the influence of the “Hindutva ideology” in India, peace in the region was not possible.
President Alvi also called for peace in Afghanistan and said he was hopeful that peace would be restored in the country.
‘Pakistan today can stand tall among the comity of nations’
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s message on Independence Day came in a series of tweets by the Prime Minister’s Office, which quoted the premier as saying that “Pakistan today can stand tall among the comity of nations.”
“Our policies towards reviving the economy, handling the pandemic, and protecting the environment have received universal acclaim,” a tweet further stated.
The prime said the nation had “surmounted monumental challenges during the course of our history to emerge as a united, peaceful and resilient nation”, adding that like other times, it would overcome the challenges it faced today “with our characteristic determination and come out stronger as a nation.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan also expressed support for the people of occupied Kashmir.
“Pakistan will continue to extend its full support to the Kashmiris in their just cause. Kashmiris are looking up to the international community to fulfil the promises made to them,” he said.
Moreover, he reiterated that Pakistan would “continue to support a negotiated political settlement for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan”.
“We want peace within and peace without, to pursue our socio-economic agenda,” he said.
According to Radio Pakistan, President Alvi conferred on the day 126 civil awards on Pakistani citizens and foreign nationals for showing excellence and courage in their respective fields today.
These awards include three Nishan-i-Imtiaz, two Hilal-i-Pakistan, six Hilal-i-Imtiaz, four Sitar-i-Pakistan, three Sitara-i-Shuja’at, 17 Sitara-i-Imtiaz, 39 President’s Award for Pride of Performance, three Sitara-i-Quaid-i-Azam, 17 Tamgha-i-Shuja’at, 31Tamgha-i-Imtiaz, and one Tamgha-i-Quaid-i-Azam.
The investiture ceremony of these awards will take place on March 23, according to APP.
Moreover, the president conferred military awards on officers and soldiers of the Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force, according to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations.
The military awards include two Sitara-i-Basalat, 61 Tamgha-i-Basalat, 42 Imtiazi Asnad, 70 Chief of Army Staff Commendation Cards, 22 Hilal-i-Imtiaz (Military), 106 Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Military) and 128 Tamgha-i-Imtiaz (Military).