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President Zardari reiterates no compromise on national sovereignty

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ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan Day celebrations are under way, President Asif Ali Zardari has stressed upon the nation to participate in the nation-building process actively, embracing the values of hard work, integrity, and compassion.

This day commemorates the Lahore Resolution passed on March 23, 1940, and the adoption of the first Constitution of Pakistan on March 23, 1956.

Speaking at a parade in Islamabad, President Zardari honoured the commitment and sacrifices made by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and his compatriots.

He noted that at this time, Pakistan is facing a confluence of economic, social and political challenges, including an increasing population, climate change, unemployment and poverty.

“I am happy that after elections, a democratic government has been established. It is our collective responsibility to unite and find a solution to these issues,” he said.

“It is my faith that, just like we have risen to challenges in the past, we will take Pakistan out from these challenges today also.”

He further remarked that the Pakistani people are “hard working and intelligent” and that the youth will make great use of the resources at their disposal for the country’s progress and a brighter future.

The president was hopeful that the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) would be a positive step for the nation’s economy, particularly in areas of foreign investment, agriculture, livestock, minerals, mining, information technology and the energy sector.

He further requested all political parties to set aside their political differences and work together for the nation’s progress and well-being.

President Zardari stressed that the key to durable peace in South Asia is the resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.

“In our region, one of the main reasons for instability is the Indian illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. “We condemn the brutalities, human rights violations carried out by the Indian government against innocent and unarmed Kashmiri people.”

He reminded the people of India-held Kashmir that Pakistan will “always stand by them in their just struggle against tyranny.”

With regards to humanitarian catastrophes unfolding in Gaza, Zardari appealed to the international community to ensure the killing of innocent Palestinians is “immediately halted, a ceasefire is announced and a humanitarian corridor is opened at priority.”

Zardari emphasised that Pakistan was a peace-loving country and a responsible nuclear state that wanted relations with all its neighbours.

“However, let me make it clear that we will not compromise on our sovereignty. Our nation and armed forces are always ready to respond to any aggresion at all times.

“We will not tolerate any efforts by terrorists or any group to destabilise our country,” he said, adding that today’s parade is a reminder of the country’s unity, strength and pride.

He concluded his speech by thanking Saudi Arabia, China, UAE, Turkiye and other friendly countries for standing with Pakistan in every hour of difficulty.

Parade celebrations

The day’s celebrations began with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital and 21-gun salutes in the provincial capitals.

Special prayers were offered in mosques for the progress, prosperity and solidarity of the country. The national flag has also been hoisted on major government buildings. The grand military parade featured contingents of the three armed forces and other security forces conducting a march past, while fighter planes presented aerobatic manoeuvres.

It must be noted that today’s parade was the first time that scouts from Gilgit-Baltistan took part.

Marching alongside various factions of Pakistan’s armed forces were military contingents from countries with whom Pakistan has friendly relations, including Azerbaijan and China.

PM’s message

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif asked the nation to renew the firm resolve to follow the footsteps of founding fathers to make Pakistan a trivet of peace, progress and stability.

In his message on Pakistan Day, he said Pakistan’s forefathers made untiring efforts and rendered exemplary sacrifices for Pakistan as millions of Muslims left their homes in India and decided to migrate to Pakistan.

“We are completely cognisant of the serious challenges confronting Pakistan currently including inflation, unemployment, circular debt, fiscal and trade deficit and, above all, the growing scourge of terrorism,” the premier said.

Felicitating Pakistanis at home or abroad, he said that as a nation, Pakistanis had proved to be resilient in the face of extraordinary circumstances and stood the test of time.

“I can assure you that we stand committed to put Pakistan on the path to economic recovery and prosperity with a cogent policy reform framework. I hope that these measures will bring economic stability and the current wave of high inflation will recede, bringing respite for our citizens,” he said.

Later in the day, an investiture ceremony will be held at the Aiwan-i-Sadr where Zardari will confer awards and medals on personalities for their outstanding contribution in different fields.