islamabad/rawalpindi - The residents of twin cities celebrated Independence Day with a renewed pledge to safeguard the motherland against any threat and make it a true Islamic welfare state as envisioned by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

The celebrations of Independence Day officially began with fireworks at Parade Ground Shakarparian in Islamabad at midnight. The ground and surrounding areas were lit with thousands of colourful fireworks and lights. Thousands of citizens from Rawalpindi and Islamabad witnessed the great firework.

The day dawned with 31-gun salute in the federal and 21-gun salute in the provincial capitals. Special prayers were offered for prosperity, integrity and solidarity of the country, unity of the Muslim Ummah and success of the long drawn struggle of Kashmiris after Fajr prayers.

All major public and private buildings, roads and avenues were tastefully decorated with illuminations, national flags, portraits of the national leaders, banners and buntings giving a festive look.

Meanwhile, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force (PAF), Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman yesterday said the challenges confronted by the country demanded the greater unity among all ranks.

“Undoubtedly, the challenges we are facing today demand unity in our ranks,” the Air Chief said in his message read out by Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Personnel) Air Vice Marshal Khalid Dabir at a flag hoisting ceremony here at the Air Headquarters.

He said, “In these testing times, nothing but a sense of belonging and ownership with the country can inspire feelings of patriotism and self-sacrifice in the service of the nation. We must show compassion for others by being forthcoming and lending a helping hand to our brothers and sisters in distress. Indeed, Pakistan is our identity and through the spirit of nationalism we can promote national unity and supreme loyalty to motherland.

“While celebrating our nation’s birth with traditional patriotic fervour, we must strive to be worthy of our ancestors’ tremendous sacrifices and prove ourselves true inheritors of the invaluable reward bestowed upon us by Allah Almighty.”

Pakistan Air Force celebrated the Independence Day of the country with fervour and dignity, said a press release. The day commenced with special ‘Dua’ (prayer) after the morning prayer at all the mosques of Pakistan Air Force. All airmen and civilian staff of the force assembled at their respective bases, units and headquarters to sing the national anthem. Similar flag hoisting ceremonies were also held at all PAF air commands, bases and other establishments. Meanwhile, a flag hosting ceremony was held here at Rawalpindi Arts Council yesterday to mark the Independence Day. RAC Resident Director Waqar Ahmed accompanied by Khubaib Foundation Chairman Nadeem Ahmed Khan hosted the flag. The purpose of the ceremony was to include orphans in the Independence Day celebrations, said a press release.

Speaking on the occasion, Waqar Ahmed said the citizens should celebrate independence with commitment to play their role for the progress of the country.

Nadeem Ahmed Khan highlighted services of leaders of Pakistan Movement and paid tribute to them. He urged the citizens to play a role to end illiteracy and poverty. Children presented national songs at the end of the ceremony.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Women Association (MFAWA) yesterday arranged a photo exhibition here to mark the 70th Independence Day. At the exhibition, 32 works of 11 artists from across the country were put on display. The event was attended among others by Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Affairs Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, diplomats from various countries and their families.  Among the artists whose paintings were showcased included Amjid Butt, Ayesha Kamal, Saima Ashfq, Makhtoom, Rizram, Aiab Khan, Nisar, Abdul Jabbar, Hamid Alivi, Sulahri and Ajab Khan.      Addressing the participants, Sartaj Aziz said the poetry of Allama Muhammad Iqbal thought equality and renewal of commitment to work for progress, prosperity and development of the country. “Iqbal’s poetry is a source of knowledge and enlightenment for everyone,” he added. The Advisor said that Allama Muhammad Iqbal had written letters to Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah for creation of a country where Muslims could practice their faiths freely. The Secretary Foreign Affairs greeted the nation on the Independence Day and said Sartaj Aziz was lucky to shake hand with the Quaid-i-Azam, besides participating in the Pakistan Movement.

Both the Adviser and Secretary Foreign Affairs cut the Independence Day cake along with other guests.

Meanwhile, Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation organised colourful events, including fireworks, in connection with Independence Day celebrations here at the Parade Ground on Sunday night. A large number of people from the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad witnessed the colourful activities.

IMC Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz, who was the chief guest on the occasion, said he would make all-out efforts to make the Capital city more beautiful and modern according to the vision of the Prime Minister. It may be added that the IMC has displayed banners and posters across the city felicitating the residents of Capital on Independence Day.

Meanwhile, the Capital development Authority (CDA) also organised a number of events including Table Tennis Tournament, Young Award Show at Pak China Friendship Centre, three-day Azadi Mela at Fatima Jinnah Park (F-9), Birds Show at Lake View Park and a cultural show at Arts and Craft Village in connection with Independence Day celebrations.