Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani has urged the nation to stand united to steer the country out of all the challenges by following the vision and philosophy of founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah He was addressing the nation after hoisting the national flag at the main Independence Day ceremony at Convention Centre here in Islamabad on Sunday. Paying rich tributes to the statesmanship and leadership of Quaid-e-Azam, the Prime Minister said that creation of Pakistan is the best example of democratic struggle in the living history. He said that resolution of all the problems faced by the country also lies in democracy. He said only democracy is guarantee of peace, prosperity, tolerance and brotherhood. Referring to the sacrifices rendered by Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto for the rights of people and cause of democracy, the prime minister said that the present government by treading the path of its leaders is working for strengthening of democratic system in the country. He said under the leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari, the process of reconciliation and consultation is underway with all the political forces to find solutions of all the issues. He said our people are pro democracy and the government has always respected the rights of the provinces. Under this spirit, the 18th amendment was passed to give greater provincial autonomy to the provinces. Describing the passage of NFC award as the landmark achievement of the present government, he said it has ensured greater share in financial resources to the provinces. Similarly, Gilgit Baltistan has been given greater autonomy in recognition of their long standing demands. Amendments in the FCR and extension of political parties act in FATA will also usher in a new era there as now all the political parties can operate in the area. The Prime Minister said that implementation on Aaghaz-e-Haqooq Balochistan package has also been started to remove the decades old sense of deprivation of the people of the province. He said he is ready to hold dialogue with all the Baloch leaders to bring them into the national mainstream and evolve a joint strategy for the resolution of problems faced by the province. He said the under the 18th amendment, the education department has been devolved to the provinces but the federation will continue to patronize the department for the promotion of education in the country. In this connection, a national education conference will soon be convened in consultation with the provinces so that a uniform education system could be enforced in the entire country. In the light of recommendations emanating from his 'Dialogue with the Nation' process, the Prime Minister announced several initiatives to promote arts, culture and reading habits. April 22 will be observed as national book day with a viewing to promoting the book culture. First national book museum would be established in Islamabad. Cultural Attaches would be appointed in Pakistan's missions abroad where they are not in place yet while writers, artists and poets would form Prime Minister's entourage during his visits abroad. A film studio and a cinema house would be set up in the Federal Capital on fast track basis. Sports festivals would be held at federal and provincial levels. He said the government is striving hard to overcome the energy crisis and soon unscheduled loadshedding will come to an end. He said that work on Bhasha and Munda dams is underway while decision has been taken to release necessary funds for early exploitation of Thar coal. He said the government inherited the problem from the previous government and despite all odds it has been successful in adding three thousand MW of electricity to the national grid. He said a ministerial committee headed by finance minister has been constituted to furnish recommendations to cope with the energy shortfall. He said a strategy in consultation with the provinces will be evolved to check the price hike. He, however, said that under the Ramadan package, the federal government is giving subsidy of two billion rupees through the utility stores to ensure provision of essential commodities to the people at reduced rates. Under the Benazir Income Support Programme, cash grant is being given to six million people while workers of different state owned institutions have been given shares under the stock option scheme. An internship programme has also been launched to provide jobs to the unemployed youth. Prime Minister Gilani said the government is also working to strengthen all the national institutions to ensure good governance. However, it is the responsibility of each institution to work within its constitutional domain. He said we believe in the supremacy of parliament and independence of judiciary. We have always endorsed the decisions of the judiciary. Lauding the sacrifices of armed forces in the war against terrorism, he said the entire nation and political parties are united in this war and it will be rooted out at all costs. He said after the successful operation in Swat and Malakand Division, efforts are being made to crush the terrorists in South Waziristan. The Prime Minister said Pakistan is a peace-loving country and allegations of extremism and terrorism are baseless as the country itself is worst sufferer of the menace. He expressed the confidence that they would be able to find solution to the Karachi problem through collective wisdom. He hoped that the Speaker would soon constitute a parliamentary committee to look into different aspects of the issue and recommend proposals for its solution. He pointed out that last year's floods and the war against terrorism adversely affected our economy. Only in the war against terrorism, Pakistan has suffered loss of sixty five bilion dollars. He said that the government took some difficult decisions to put the economy on the right course which have been appreciated by the masses as well. He said due to prudent government policies, our foreign exchange reserves have reached the record level of 18 billion dollars. Turning to foreign relations, the prime minister said that Pakistan seeks friendly relations with all its neighbouring countries including India, Afghanistan and Iran on the basis of mutual respect and interest. He said Pakistan has historic ties with China and relations with it are the cornerstone of our foreign policy. Similarly our brotherly relations with Saudi Arabia are deep rooted and people of both the countries share bonds of love and friendship. People of Pakistan and Turkey also have deep sentiments of live and affection for each other. The Prime Minister said Pakistan has historical ties with brotherly Iran and hoped that implementation of gas import agreement would begin soon. Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said Pakistan wants early restoration of peace in Afghanistan and progress, prosperity and safeguarding of independence of that country. The Prime Minister said Pakistan wants to resolve all issues with India through dialogue so that the two countries can utilize their resources to alleviate poverty, ignorance and backwardness. He reiterated that Kashmir being jugular vein of Pakistan, we would continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to the just cause of Kashmiri people. He recalled that the international community has acknowledged the right of self-determination for Kashmiris. The Prime Minister said Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with the United States and is ready to extend cooperation to all major powers. He, however, said Pakistan would not accept hegemony of any one. Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said Pakistan's nuclear programme, initiated by Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, has made the country's defence impregnable. He said no one can dare cast an evil eye on Pakistan. He also recounted the steps being taken by the Government to equip youth of the country with modern technology. The flag hoisting ceremony was attended by Chairman Senate Farooq H. Naik, Speaker National Assembly Dr. Fehmida Mirza, Federal Ministers, Parliamentarians, Services Chiefs, diplomats, notables and a large number of students of different schools and colleges of Islamabad. Sirens were sounded on arrival of the Prime Minister's arrival at the avenue to herald the flag hoisting at 9.00 a.m. The Prime Minister raised the national flag and national anthem was played. On this occasion, children drawn from different schools and colleges of Islamabad presented national songs, which enthralled the audience.