Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday blamed India for the impasse in bilateral ties, saying New Delhi’s “expansionist designs” was the “main hurdle” in constructive relations between the two neighbours.
Addressing the nation on its 70th Independence Day, Abbasi said Pakistan “desires positive and constructive” relations with all countries based on sovereign equality.
Indo-Pak ties nosedived after a series of attacks last year, including the Uri strike, carried out by the Pakistan-based terror outfits. Following the attacks, India boycotted the SAARC Summit, which was scheduled to be held in November last in Pakistan.
“Our government has invariably made efforts to initiate the process of meaningful dialogue and adoption of peaceful means to resolve the issues but unfortunately the expansionist designs of India have remained the main hurdle in this regard,” Abbasi said as Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang attended the celebrations as a “special guest” of the country.
Yang arrived in Pakistan on Sunday for the event.
Abbasi said that China and Pakistan have “always stood by each other in difficult times and their friendship will stand the test of time and grow with coming generations.”
He called on the international community to “play its role” in resolving regional conflicts, “particularly the Kashmir dispute” between India and Pakistan in conformity with the UN resolutions to ensure durable peace in the region.
Abbasi, 58, was sworn-in as Pakistan’s 18th prime minister on August 1 after the Supreme Court disqualified the incumbent Nawaz Sharif for dishonesty following the Panama papers scandal.
“The people of South Asia have suffered enormously in the last fifty years due to the festering conflicts. Until and unless those conflicts are resolved amicably the people of the region cannot achieve prosperity and progress,” he said.
He termed terrorism as the biggest challenge confronting the world in the 21st century and highlighted Pakistan’s “unparalleled sacrifices” in the fight against this menace.
In his address, President Mamnoon Hussain called for unity among the people for a developed Pakistan.
He said it is time to forget “personal grievances” and stand by the Constitution, apparently referring to Sharif’s ouster as prime minister and his charge that his removal was “pre-planned”.
The day began with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital Islamabad along with a 21-gun salute in provincial capitals to mark the official Independence Day celebrations.
Major public and private buildings, roads and avenues have been decorated with national flags, portraits of the national leaders, banners and buntings to give a festive look.
Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa hoisted a huge national flag at the Attari-Wagah border with India soon after midnight on Sunday, kicking off the day-long celebration.
The flag flew at 400 feet, the highest in South Asia.
The 120x80 feet flag is also the largest in the history of the country, Pakistani media reported.
Bajwa was apprised of the recent “ceasefire violations from the Indian side and effective response by own troops”.
“There’s no better way to celebrate independence than defending the country,” he told soldiers.
He also said that Pakistan will always stand with the Kashmiri people “in their just struggle against repression”.
Pakistan air force organised an air show in Islamabad to mark the 70th Independence Day celebrations.
Aerobatic teams from Pakistan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia performed before a huge crowd of people who flocked the Fatima Jinnah Park in the heart of the city to witness the show.
The special appearance of “Solo Turk”, the famous aerobatic team of Turkish Air Force, and the internationally acclaimed “Saudi Hawks” of Royal Saudi Air Force alongside PAF aircraft were the main attraction of the show.
Pakistan air force also displayed JF-17 Thunder aircraft, indigenously built with the Chinese assistance.
Tri-Services free fall display of Special Services personnel was another salient feature of the show.
In Karachi, a similar air show by PAF was organised to mark the Independence Day festivities.