Pakistan renews talks offer to India
Men wave national flags as they attend a flag-hoisting ceremony to celebrate Independence Day on the Pakistan-India border at Wagah border, near Lahore, on Friday.
Islamabad - In Independence Day speech, President Mamnoon says Islamabad wants peace in region
Pakistan on Friday celebrated the 68th Independence Day with unusual fervor and gusto as national leadership called for unity and firm resolve to promote and strengthen sovereignty, solidarity and progress of the country.
The day dawned with booming of 31-gun salute in the capital Islamabad and 21-gun in each of all four provincial headquarters followed by impressive flag hoisting ceremonies.
In Islamabad, President Mamnoon Hussain led the ceremony at Convention Centre attended by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, services chiefs, diplomats and prominent citizens. A one-minute silence was also observed to pay tribute to the schoolchildren killed in terrorist attack in Peshawar last year as also all those citizens and soldiers who died in the attacks by Taleban terrorists in rest of the country.
Speaking on this occasion, President Mamnoon renewed an offer to arch rival India to hold bilateral talks to resolve the issue of the disputed Kashmir region, among other outstanding matters between the two neighbours.
Mamnoon said Pakistan believes in "peaceful co-existence," though it would not compromise if its defence and security came under threat.
"We want to resolve all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, with India," he told a gathering of students, government and military officials in the capital, Islamabad.
The president said Pakistan wants peace and stability in the region. It is committed to develop friendly relations with all its neighbours, in particular, with India.
He referred to 'undesirable incidents', and said that action is being taken against "negative, destructive elements who have tried to harm unity of Pakistan".
The President said narrow-mindedness, extremism and terrorism are related to education. To eradicate these elements, he said, modern education must be adopted.
He said the country had been in a state of war and under threat from both internal and external forces. He praised the Pakistan Army for its sacrifices. He also lauded present government's determined efforts to restore the economy and lead the country on path of progress and prosperity.
He said Pakistan's unswerving resolve to eliminate terrorism was achieving success and added that the Karachi operation would also continue.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet extended his good wishes to Pakistanis. Modi's greeting came in the midst of tensions between Pakistan and India due to recent skirmishes along the Line of Control.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari, PTI chairman Imran Khan, Jamaat-e-Islami's Sirajul Haq, PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain in separate messages greeted the nation on Independence Day and urged people to make every sacrifice to preserve this independence.
Sharif said the operation against terrorism had the support of entire nation and has hugely contributed in breaking the backbone of terrorist groups. It was steadily heading towards complete elimination of this menace. The premier said his government's economic policies could succeed only in a peaceful atmosphere. A friendly cricket match was also played between Pakistan Army cricket team led by Shahid Afridi and Pakistan Eleven led by Misbahul Haq in which Army Chief General Raheel Sharif was the chief guest. The army team defeated Pakistan Eleven by six wickets. Its proceeds were donated to help the internally displaced persons of Waziristan. For the first time in two decades, the independence was celebrated in North Waziristan where army officers and troops mingled with tribesmen and danced to the tunes of national songs.
Across the country cultural functions including music shows, art exhibitions, declamation contests in schools were held.
(With inputs from agencies)
Navel cadets raise slogans as they march at the mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi.