ISLAMABAD  - President and Prime Minister has urged the nation to work together and commit ourselves to the progress and prosperity of our nation, setting aside our mutual differences so that the country can get its rightful place in the comity of nations.

They stated this in their separate messages on the 66th Independence Day of Pakistan.

President Asif Ali Zardari in his message said: “let us on this day rededicate ourselves to the democratic ideals and principles of the Quaid. Adherence to the principles that political choices must be made through ballot, and not imposed through bullet, he added.

He emphasised, “we should banish all forms of bigotry, extremism and militancy from our minds.”

He said our founding father envisioned Pakistan as a country where democracy, Constitutionalism and rule of law would be supreme.

He said while it is natural to rejoice today in our celebrations, it is also an occasion to pause and ponder over whether we have moved towards or away from the ideals for which Pakistan was created.

President said, for most part of our independence existence the people were often denied right to rule and Constitution repeatedly abrogated.

He said it is reassuring that the President and Parliament was unanimously restored to a large extent the democratic Constitution of 1973.

The restoration of the Constitution by all political forces and provinces raises our hope that despite setbacks we would revert to our true bearing and restore to Pakistan the values and ideals for which it was created, Zardari said.

However, the people and the Parliament must also be watchful against new forms of assaults on the Constitution and the Parliament, he said.

He urged everyone to work together for the strengthening of democracy, empowerment of the people and for a progressive, tolerant, moderate and modern Pakistan as envisioned by our great leaders.

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said the present coalition government has undertaken various historic initiatives during the last four and half years and pursued a policy of reconciliation. The passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment empowered the federating units administratively as well as politically, he added.

The adoption of the 7th National Finance Commission Award increased the share of provinces in the federal divisible pool. We have also refashioned our country’s foreign policy in accord with Parliamentary guidelines and national interest. Besides, Benazir Income Support Programme, a flagship programme of the government, has focused on women empowerment and welfare of the poorest segments of society, he said.

The PPP government is committed to provide an equal status for minorities as citizens of the state, PM said.

We are confronted with various challenges such as energy crisis, law and order problem, economic difficulties, terrorism, and extremism, which have slowed down the pace of socio –economic development, he added.

He said despite all the difficulties, Pakistan is a vibrant polity where judiciary is independent, Parliament is functioning, Media is vibrant and civil society is active.

We are resolute and determined nation and can overcome these daunting challenges if we demonstrate tolerance, unity, solidarity and understanding, PM said.

Meanwhile, speaking at another function, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf stated that the media should promote a positive image of Pakistan. He said that no one practices human rights as much as Pakistan does.

Recalling an incident when a foreign Embassy’s representative visited his village, he said, “She [the representative] saw my village questioned me if anyone had been taught about human rights there. I pointed at a farmer working grazing the pastures and told her that he will explain her how we practice human rights.”

Prime Minister said that freedom is attained by democracy and not by force.

People must reject assault on parliament, says Zardari