ISLAMABAD, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan on Wednesday celebrates its 67th Independence Day with traditional fervour to pay homage to those who sacrificed their lives for creating a separate country for Muslims of the Sub-Continent.
Pakistan won independence from the British colonial rule on Aug. 1947. It was Muhammad Ali Jinnah who led Muslims to create a separate country for the Muslims.
The day dawned with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital and a 21-gun salute in provincial capitals.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raised national flag at a largely- attended function in Islamabad that marks the official beginning of the celebrations. National Anthem was played by school children.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also attended the function as a special guest at the ceremony at the Convention Center which also drew senior military and civilian leaders, ministers, lawmakers, diplomats and dignitaries.
President Asif Ali Zardari in his message called for banishing from their midst extremists and militants, who wish to impose their political ideology on the people through the bullet instead of the ballot.
"Let us also reject those, who exploit and misuse the name of religion for advancing their personal and partisan political agendas," the president said.
He urged people to stand firm and united for safeguarding and strengthening democracy and to work collectively for a progressive, tolerant, moderate and pluralistic Pakistan as envisioned by its great leaders.
President Zardari paid tribute to the valiant sons of the soil, who sacrificed their lives defending the motherland from internal and external threats.
"I also pay tributes to the courage of all those fellow citizens, who laid down their lives or suffered grievously fighting against militancy and extremism."
Sharif, in his message, reiterated that the government was also fully committed to weeding out extremism and terrorism in the country, and would ensure its safety and security by all means.
"The Independence Day demands from us that we should plan our future strategy in the light of our past experiences. If we fail to correct our mistakes today, do not choose the right path, and continue to serve our personal interests instead of the national objectives, the future generations will never pardon us," the prime minister noted.