ISLAMABAD, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called for unity to defeat violent extremism as the country celebrated Independence Day on Sunday.
The celebrations began with a 31-gun salute in the national capital and 21-gun salute in all provincial capitals.
Prime Minister Gilani hoisted the national flag in Islamabad after he delivered a speech at the city's Jinnah Convention Centre.
Gilani said that Pakistan has successfully taken on the challenge of terrorism and extremism in line with national interest and global commitment.
"The government, with the support of people of Pakistan, has made significant strides in fighting out terrorism. The Pakistani nation and its security forces have rendered huge sacrifices both in man and material to protect the national identity and preserve the sovereignty of Pakistan against all odds," he said.
Earlier President Zardari formally opened the celebrations and told a gathering that parliament, people of the country and the Pakistani army together will face all the challenges and give due status and position to the country which it deserves in the international community.
Zardari also appealed to all the political forces and intellectuals to come forward for dialogue with the government so that the country could be made a strong, stable and prosperous state and making a bright future for the coming generations.
Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani in his speech acknowledged the sacrifices of soldiers and citizens in the anti- terror war and paid tribute to their families.
"Their sacrifices, undoubtedly, underscore the nation's ability and commitment to deal with any threat to the integrity, sovereignty and well being of Pakistan," General Kayani told the participants of an Independence Day parade at Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad late Saturday night.
Pakistan got independence from the British colonial rule in August 1947 and celebrates its Independence Day on August 14.