Islamabad: Pakistani leaders on Thursday paid homage to the relentless struggle by the founding fathers of the country for a separate homeland for Muslims, as the cash-strapped nation celebrated Pakistan Day amidst the economic meltdown and bitter political acrimony.
The traditional Pakistan Day Military Parade scheduled to be held here was postponed till Saturday due to bad weather. Already it was decided to hold the parade at a limited level due to the severe economic crunch facing the country.
President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif issued messages on the day observed to commemorate the passing of the Lahore Resolution on March 23, 1940, when the All-India Muslim League demanded a separate nation for the Muslims of the British Indian Empire.
Shehbaz in a tweet said: “The nation pays homage to Pakistan's founding fathers for their political wisdom, sagacity, and determination to wage a relentless struggle for a separate homeland”.
“The day is a reminder that no matter what the challenges, human will is capable of attaining the impossible,” he said.
He went on to add: “Living nations put themselves to rigorous audit by comparing their performance to the ideals. This is their way of introspection and accountability. I have unwavering faith in the idea of Pakistan defeating the odds. On 23rd March today, let us awaken the spirit of service to the nation.” Earlier, in a message to the nation, the prime minister described March 23 as an “epoch-making day in our national history”, saying that it reminds us of our past, invites us to ponder over our present state of affairs, and inspires us to build a prosperous future.
He said March 23 is also the day to renew our pledges and takes us back to 1940 when Muslims of the sub-continent approved a resolution for the establishment of a separate homeland they could call their own under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Alvi in his message said that the country established state institutions, made its defence impregnable, achieved nuclear deterrence, curbed terrorism, overcame the Covid-19 pandemic, and displayed the spirit of sacrifice and cooperation in the face of natural calamities.
“Today, we pay tribute to the founding fathers of our nation whose struggles and sacrifices led to the creation of Pakistan,” he said.
However, he said Pakistan has a long way to go to ensure the rule of law, strengthen democracy, reduce inequalities in our society, empower women, provide the rights of persons with disabilities, eradicate terrorism and extremism, ensure the political and economic stability of the country, and protect the human rights of our citizens.
Radio Pakistan reported that the day began with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital and a 21-gun salute in the provincial capitals.
A change of guards ceremony was also held at the mausoleums of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal in Karachi and Lahore, respectively.
Special prayers were offered in mosques about the progress and prosperity of the country.
The day was observed as the country struggled to avoid default on external payments due to a delay in the approval of a loan agreement by the International Monetary Fund.
The economic problems were compounded by the political tussle between the ruling alliance and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party of former prime minister Imran Khan who has been demanding early elections.