Islamabad: President Mamnoon Hussain on Wednesday called Kashmir the "jugular vein of Pakistan" even as he sought a peaceful resolution of the long-standing dispute with India over it.
"We are a peace loving nation and want peaceful relations with other nations, especially our neighbours," Hussain said in his address at the Pakistan Day parade ceremony where the country's armed forced showcased their military might.
He said Kashmir is the "jugular vein of Pakistan" but his country would continue efforts for the peaceful resolution of the long-standing dispute.
Hussain reiterated support for Kashmiri people, saying, "Pakistan will continue to extend moral, political and
diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their right to self-determination."
Last year, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while addressing a joint session of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir's assembly in
Muzaffarabad, had described Kashmir as his country's "jugular vein".
In 2014, army chief General Raheel Sharif had also termed Kashmir as the "jugular vein" of Pakistan and said the issue should be resolved in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of Kashmiris.
Hussain said Pakistan's desire for "peaceful ties should not be misconstrued as our weakness".
He said Pakistan was not part of arms race with any country and its weapons were for the purpose of self-defence.
Amid tight security, a parade by armed forces, showcasing of latest weapons and a cultural show marked the Pakistan Day celebrations in Islamabad.
The last parade was held on 23 March, 2008, reviewed by General Pervez Musharraf as a civilian president, but was
discontinued owing to security concerns.
The Pakistan Day is observed to commemorate a resolution passed by a gathering of Muslims in Lahore in 1940, urging a separate country for Muslims.
The day dawned with a 31-gun salute at the federal capital and 21-gun salutes at the provincial capitals.
The ceremony of the Pakistan Day parade kicked off with a fly past of Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy planes led by Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman.
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 the President.
Prime Minister Sharif, President Hussain, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Zakaullah, and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif witnessed the parade.
Mechanised columns of tanks, rocket launchers, indigenously developed short and long-range missiles, radars and unmanned aerial vehicles were also showcased at the parade.
Floats depicting culture of the four provinces, PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan were also part of the parade.
The skydivers of the Special Services Groups presented a thrilling free fall from ten thousand feet while carrying the national flags and those of the three services.
Hussain said Pakistan contributed troops many times for the UN peacekeeping missions in different countries and will continue to play its role to free the world of the scourge of terrorism and conflicts.
He said that operation against militants in North Waziristan was going through the last phase and soon the
area would be free of terrorism.
"But the war on terrorism will not end till the last terrorist is eliminated. Our destination is to end lawlessness
and terrorism from all parts of the country," Hussain said.
He said the enemy will not be allowed to cast an evil eye on the country as its armed forces are fully equipped to foil their designs with iron hands.
Pakistan Day is a public holiday and the national flag is hoisted at all major government and private buildings on the occasion.
Various political, social, religious, cultural and educational organisations arranged functions to highlight
different aspects of the struggle for Pakistan and the lives of its founding fathers.
Pakistan Day is also being 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.