ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has dedicated Pakistan’s 70th Independence Day to the freedom movement in Kashmir, where more than 50 people have died in a month of violence triggered by the killing of a youth leader.
“I dedicate this year’s 14th August to the freedom of Kashmir,” Nawaz Sharif said in his message for the Independence Day, which will be celebrated today across the country.
“I dedicate it to the people of Kashmir who have bravely faced state oppression but kept the spirit of freedom alive. This Independence is also memorable due to the fact that nowadays the spirit of independence in Occupied Kashmir is at its peak,” the premier was quoted in a statement issued by the PM House.
According to the PM House release, the main Independence Day event will be a flag-hoisting ceremony in the federal capital, where the president would address the nation. Flag-hoisting ceremonies would also be held in all provincial capitals and district headquarters besides other important national institutions.
The day will dawn with a 31-gun salute in Islamabad and 21-gun salute in the provincial capitals. Special prayers will be offered for the prosperity, integrity and solidarity of the country, and ‘for the success of the long struggle of Kashmiris’.
PM Nawaz, in his message, also paid homage to the martyrs who have laid down their lives for the country. “We remember all our martyrs from every segment of the state. They are in every political party…every field of life… every sect…every religion. They are all Pakistanis. They are individuals of one nation,” he said.
Remembering the victims of Monday’s Quetta carnage, the premier said this 14th August also carried deep feelings of grief as the pain of Quetta’s martyrs is still fresh.
He added that without the leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s creation was impossible.
“When we remember the Quaid, leaders and workers of Pakistan Movement, our hearts are enlightened with the memory people who have become immortal by sacrificing their lives for the country,” the PM said.
President calls for unity
In a separate Independence Day message, President Mamnoon urged the nation to forge unity to secure a better and brighter future for the coming generations.
“We need to initiate the process of correction individually, then from homes and communities to derive more benefits and ensure the democratic values take root at the state, governmental and administrative levels to pave the way for a meaningful change,” President Mamnoon said.
Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali also extended heartiest felicitations to Pakistanis while calling for national consensus at the institutional level on vital issues.
“In order to affect change, we need to first move our institutional thinking to be more critical about our performance and be reform-minded to devise and implement suitable solutions,” he said in an Independence Day message.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2016.