Pakistanis are celebrating the 71st Independence Day with traditional zeal and fervour, with commemorative ceremonies held in cities across the country.
The day-long festivities began with thanksgiving prayers and the hoisting of the national flag at all important public buildings in the country, which had been decorated with bunting and lights ahead of August 14.
The day began with a 31-gun salute in the capital, followed by 21-gun salutes in all four provincial capitals.
The main ceremony was hosted at Islamabad’s Jinnah Convention Centre, where President Mamnoon Hussain hoisted the national flag. The ceremony was also attended by caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk, the three chiefs of the armed forces and other notable personalities and foreign dignitaries.
Flag hoisting ceremonies were held in the provincial capitals as well as district headquarters.
Change-of-guard ceremonies were also held at the mausoleums of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal in Karachi and Lahore, respectively.
Pakistan Rangers officials at the Wagah border crossing exchanged sweets with Indian Border Security Force personnel.
People across the country flocked to stalls that lined up streets to purchase national flags in different sizes, t-shirts, badges and other merchandise to display their national pride.
In his address to the ceremony at the Convention Centre, President Mamnoon congratulated the nation on what he said was the “day of true celebration”.
Observing that the independence day and general elections had fallen around the same time this year, the president said he thinks a message is hidden between the two events.
“It is a reminder that the way this country had come into being with the people’s will, in the same manner, the decisions regarding its fate will be made through the vote,” he said, adding that the Pakistani nation had stamped this very principle on July 25.
Terming Pakistan as an “exception blessing” of God, he said the objective behind the formation of the country was to free humans from the slavery of other humans so they could live their lives freely without fear of exploitation.
He said despite significant progress, Pakistan has yet to reach its destiny and that a consensus about national objectives is imperative to achieve the goals.
On their independence anniversary, the president said, the Pakistani people remember the people of Kashmir and their historic sacrifices.
“Pakistan will continue to provide its political and moral support to resolve the Kashmir issue under United Nations resolutions,” Mamnoon said. He called upon the international community to raise its voice to get the Kashmiri people their due rights.
President, PM’s messages on independence day
In their separate messages, President Mamnoon and Prime Minister Mulk extended felicitations to the nation on occasion of the 71st independence day, media reported. The day of Aug 14 reinforces the people’s resolve to work for the progress of their country, they said.
Terming Pakistan a blessing of Allah, Mamnoon said Pakistan can overcome the economic problems and other issues it is facing by only following the teachings of the Quaid-i-Azam and Allama Iqbal in their true spirit.
In his message, the prime minister said the occasion “reminds us of the epic democratic struggle of our forefathers for securing a separate homeland for the Muslims of the sub-continent where they could fashion their lives according to their religious, cultural and social values,” according to media.
An unwavering commitment to the ideals of the Quaid and implementing the principle of ‘Unity, Faith and Discipline’ will help the country overcome its challenges and make it a self-reliant, economically vibrant and prosperous state.