Islamabad - The nation celebrated Pakistan Day yesterday with renewed commitment to defeat the forces of extremism and terrorism and work hard for the progress, prosperity and stability of the country.

Addressing an impressive ceremony of Pakistan Day Parade in Islamabad, President Mamnoon Hussain reaffirmed the national resolve to make Pakistan a terror-free and developed country.

The day dawned with 31-gun salute at the federal capital and 21-gun salutes at the provincial capitals. March 23rd is a public holiday in Pakistan and national flag is hoisted at all major government and private buildings on this special day.

Special prayers were offered after Fajr prayers for the security, progress and solidarity of the country, and people renewed their resolve to follow the path shown by the forefathers of the nation and achieve the goals set by them in the form of Pakistan Resolution in 1940 in Lahore.

Pakistan Day was also celebrated at the United Nations for the first time with a concert planned in the prestigious General Assembly hall organised by the Pakistan Mission to the UN. The concert features Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Titled Sufi Night: Music of Peace, it is aimed at spreading the message of peace and harmony at the world stage.

Various political, social, religious, cultural and educational organisations have also arranged functions to highlight different aspects of the struggle for Pakistan and lives of our founding fathers.

The main event of the day, joint services Pakistan Day parade ceremony was held at the Parade Ground near Shakarparian in Islamabad. The impressive ceremony kicked off with a splendid fly past of aircraft of Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy led by Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman.

The parade was also witnessed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, ministers, parliamentarians, diplomats, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashid Mahmood, the three services chiefs and a large number of citizens.

The formations of F-16, JF-17 thunder, Mirage, F-7PG AWACs, P-3C Orion presented salute to the chief guest by flying over the dais. Different regiments of Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force, Rangers, Police, SSG and girl guides marched past the dais presenting salute to President Mamnoon.

The president in his address vowed to take the military operation Zarb-e-Azb against terrorism in North Waziristan to its logical end. He said this operation has entered its final phase and hopefully the objective to end lawlessness and terrorism from all parts of the country will be achieved soon.

He said the enemy will not be allowed to cast an evil eye on Pakistan as the armed forces were fully equipped to foil their nefarious designs with iron hand. He said Pakistan’s weaponry is only for the defence and security of the country which has never indulged in the arms race.

President Mamnoon said Pakistan is a peace loving country and has contributed troops for the UN peace keeping missions. He said the country will continue to play its role to free the world of the scourge of terrorism and conflicts.

He said that Kashmir is jugular vein of Pakistan and ‘we want peaceful resolution of this longstanding dispute’. He reiterated that Pakistan will continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people.

The president said the journey towards progress and development of the country has started and the day is not far away when the country will emerge as a developed nation.

At the parade, mechanised columns including tanks, rocket launchers, indigenously developed short and long-range missiles, radars and unmanned aerial vehicles were showcased. Floats depicting culture of the four provinces, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan were also part of the parade.

The skydivers of the Special Services Groups presented heart touching and thrilling free fall from ten thousand feet while carrying the national flags and those of three services.

The ceremony culminated with presentation of national songs by the students of different schools. On the occasion, the president, the prime minister and the Chief of Army Staff mingled with the students attired in different regional clothes.