Pakistan’s president Arif Alvi issued an appeal on Monday (14) to political leaders, urging them to set aside their discord and animosity. The plea came as the financially strained nation marked its 76th Independence Day anniversary.
Addressing a flag hoisting ceremony held at the Convention Centre, the president also expressed his gratitude to friendly countries like China, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Turkiye for supporting Pakistan during its economic woes.
He expressed confidence that Pakistan could become a developed country in a few years.
Asking politicians and other stakeholders to embrace the path of forgiveness, Alvi said, “My demand to the leaders of this country is to be united.”
The president said it was important to break free from nepotism, promote meritocracy, and ensure comprehensive justice, particularly in the socio-economic sphere, in order to progress.
He regretted that 27 million children in Pakistan are out of school and asked the rich of the country to come forward and make arrangements for their education.
He also highlighted the greater participation of women in economic activities.
Talking about terrorism, he said that about 100,000 people were killed in the fight against the menace and assured that Pakistan was committed to the fight against terrorism.
Separately, in his special message, Alvi urged citizens to work for the welfare and uplift of deprived sections of the society.
“It is a time to renew our commitment to building a stronger and more prosperous Pakistan as envisioned by the Father of the Nation. I urge my fellow countrymen to work for welfare and uplift of deprived sections of our society,” he said.
The president also reiterated the need for national unity to surmount social, political, economic and security challenges.
In his Independence Day message, outgoing 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”.
He emphasised that unity was one of the most remarkable aspects of Pakistan’s independence that emerged from a diverse tapestry of cultures, languages, and ethnicities.
Chief of army staff (COAS) general Asim Munir paid tribute to the nation’s founding fathers and stressed that the country knew how to defend its hard-earned freedom.
In his address at the Azadi Parade held at the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul late on Sunday (13), the army chief said the nation had “maintained this tradition of celebrating freedom, equality and the quest for happiness, which we must continue to cherish”.
Acknowledging the myriad of challenges faced by the nation, from geopolitical wrangling to internal threats, general Munir said, “Let me caution them all, in the words of our great Quaid, ‘There is no power on earth which can undo Pakistan’,” asserting that the army stood ready to defend the country’s sovereignty at all costs.
Jailed former prime minister Imran Khan also issued a pre-recorded message on the Independence Day, urging countrymen to exert themselves towards the advancement of Pakistan.
This objective, he said, will be achieved only when the country gets independence in its true sense and there is establishment of equality among all individuals in the eyes of the law.
According to a Radio Pakistan report, Independence Day dawned with a 31-gun salute at the federal capital Islamabad and a 21-gun salute at the provincial capitals.
Special prayers were offered in mosques for peace, solidarity, and prosperity of the country.
A one-minute silence was observed throughout the country with the sound of sirens to herald the flag hoisting ceremony at nine in the morning. Change of guard ceremonies were also held at Mazar-i-Quaid in Karachi and Mazar-i-Iqbal in Lahore.