LAHORE - The nation celebrated Independence Day with great zeal and enthusiasm and with the pledge to make all out efforts for integrity and solidarity of Pakistan yesterday, amid unprecedented security arrangements and suspension of cellular service.

Special prayers were offered for prosperity, integrity and solidarity of the country, unity of the Ummah and freedom of Kashmir and Palestine after Fajr prayers.

The day began with a 31-gun salute in Islamabad and a 21-gun salute in all federating units.

Flag hoisting ceremonies were held in the provincial capitals, district headquarters, at public sector and private institutions. Change of guard ceremonies were held at the mausoleums of Quaide-e-Azam in Karachi and philosopher poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal in Lahore.

The main ceremony of the day was held at Convention Centre in Islamabad where President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hoisted the national flag. Governors and Chief Ministers hoisted national flags and cut cakes at ceremonies in provincial capitals.

All major public and private buildings, roads and streets were illuminated and decorated with national flags, portraits of national heroes, banners and buntings.

In Lahore, hundreds of people including women and children attended the flag-lowering ceremony at Wagah border. Students of Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar also attended the ceremony. The participants raised slogans of Pakistan Zindabad during the parade. The atmosphere was filled with beating of the drums, patriotic slogans and cheers of crowd during Rangers march towards the Indian side of the border. Rangers personnel shook hands with their Indian counterparts as the flags were lowered.

During a special ceremony at Aiwan-e-Karkunan Tehreek Pakistan, jointly organised by the Nazaria-i-Pakistan Trust and Pakistan Movement Workers’ Trust, NPT chairman Rafique Tarar said that the Independence Day called for some serious thinking, reviewing our past and making a firm resolve to do better and work more arduously in the ensuing year.

“The thought and action of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah were deeply stamped with the Quranic teachings, following which we can turn our homeland into a modern Islamic, democratic and welfare state where everyone can enjoy equal opportunities for utilising their potential to the fullest for their own good as well as for the good of the nation,” the NPT chairman added.

Intellectuals, teachers, students, Pakistan Movement workers and people of different walks of life attended the event.

Vice Chancellor Maj Gen (r) Prof Muhammad Aslam hoisted the national flag at University of Health Sciences (UHS). Similar events were held at Punjab Information Technology Board, College of Physicians & Surgeons Pakistan, PMA House, Sheikh Zayed Medical Complex, Lahore General Hospital, Services Hospital, Allama Iqbal Medical College, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Mayo Hospital and other public sector healthcare institutions.

Shalamar Hospital Executive Director Prof Ali Kazim hoisted the flag at the hospital that followed by cake cutting ceremony. PEF Managing Director Tariq Mahmood hoisted the flag at the main building along with other officials.

People came out of their houses to enjoy festivities of the Independence Day. Large number of people, predominately youth and kids, remained on roads in vehicles and on motorbikes decorated with national flags. Vehicles were seen moving at a snail’s pace on main arteries, especially Canal Bank Road and Main Boulevard Gulberg due to extra ordinary rush.

Police pickets, established to check one-wheeling, contributed a lot in slowing the vehicular movement on roads throughout Lahore.

People thronged parks and other picnic spots to enjoy the Day with their families. Extra ordinary rush was witnessed at Racecourse Park, Bagh-e-Jinnah, Greater Iqbal Park Jallo, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Sozo Water Park, Lahore Zoo and other picnic spots in the city.