People cheer while watching fireworks during the Independence Day celebrations in Karachi on Friday. AP
Pakistan celebrated its 74rd Independence Day with traditional zeal across the country as change of guard ceremonies were held at Mazaar-e-Qaid Karachi and Mazaar-e-Iqbal in Lahore.
Flag-hoisting ceremonies were held at public and private offices and special programmes were held to observe the Independence Day. Messages were also released by President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan, who recalled the sacrifices of the forefathers and those who fought for and laid down their lives in the defence of Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the flag-hoisting ceremony was also held at the Pakistan Consulate General in Dubai on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day. The ceremony was held in a manner keeping in view the local laws on social gatherings due to COVID-19.
The president called upon the nation to "stand firm and work for progress and prosperity" of the country. He urged the people to stay united in order to meet the challenges that are being faced by Pakistan.
Imran Khan, whose message was posted in a series of tweets by the Prime Minister Office's Twitter account, said that the day was "an occasion to pause and to reflect as to how far we have been able to achieve those ideals that led to creation of an independent state."
He also paid tribute to "all those sons of the soil who laid their lives while defending and protecting territorial as well as ideological frontiers of the motherland" and pledged to "continue pursuing" the ideals of the nation's founder Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
"We have battled against odds both at external as well as internal fronts," the prime minister said. "From the hostility of a neighbouring country, with its known hegemonic intentions, to the scourge of terrorism and from coping with natural calamities to fighting pandemics, our nation has always shown resilience and perseverance. Today, we reiterate our pledge to remain steadfast and embrace every challenge holding the torch of 'Unity, Faith and Discipline'."
The president and the prime minister also directed the nation's attention towards the "gross human rights violations" committed by the Indian forces in Indian occupied Kashmir.
Schoolchildren sing the national song in Islamabad.
President Alvi said that the residents of occupied Kashmir have been suffering at the hands of the Indian forces for the past three decades. He further said that "gross human rights violations" by the Indian forces have intensified since the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party repealed the autonomy of the occupied territory last year. He assured occupied Kashmir's people that "Pakistan will continue to support them in their just struggle for their Right to Self-Determination as enshrined in the United Nations Security Council resolutions."
The prime minister said that the nation's "heart [is] profoundly grieved by the suffering of our brethren in IIOJK who are facing military siege since past one year."He reaffirmed Pakistan's support for occupied Kashmir's residents' "struggle for their right to self-determination" and promised to raise the issue on every forum.
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Various political, religious, and government organisations, and the public at large, celebrated the occasion with the same enthusiasm by following the coronavirus Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) suggested by the government.
Cathedral Church Lahore’s Dean Pastor Shahid Meraj said that on Independence Day, children from the Sunday Choir sang songs and performed tableaus in the church, while special prayers were offered for the national security of Pakistan.
Consul General Amjad Ali (centre) celebrates Pakistan's Independence Day in Dubai on Friday.
Like in the past, the Pakistani flag was hoisted on the roofs of different public buildings across the country. Many buildings have also been decorated with colourful lights. All the main public buildings were decorated with lights and the Pakistani flag.
Community representation from all segments of life attended the ceremonies and also vowed to continue their support with Kashmiris especially in the revoking of their special status recently by the government of India.
The organisers also bid farewell to Saima Naqvi, Bazm-E-Urdu coordinator, as she is returning back to Pakistan after spending many years in the UAE.
The 2019 teenagers, one for each year, lined up playing the tambourine-like Rapa'i and singing a song that recounts the history of Islam in the southeast Asian country. This year, participants were selected from 140 villages in Aceh province's Blangpidie district to train for weeks for the independence day celebration.
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