–President Alvi asks India to focus on education and health instead of stoking tensions with Pakistan
–Reiterates that Pakistan’s desire for peace should not be construed as weakness
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan wants peace with India and they should focus on health and education, President Arif Alvi said on Saturday during a parade to show off Pakistan’s military might following a tense standoff between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
Conflict between the rivals erupted last month following a suicide bomb attack allegedly claimed by a proscribed militant group in the Indian Occupied Kashmir that killed 40 paramilitary police.
“We do not believe in war and want to solve problems through dialogue,” President Alvi said in his speech on the 79th Pakistan Day.
The president, who largely holds ceremonial duties, said India had blamed Pakistan for the suicide-bomb attack without evidence, which he said was irresponsible.
“Today’s parade is sending the message that we are a peaceful people but we will never be oblivious of our defense,” Alvi said.
The president noted that Pakistan’s sovereignty had been challenged in the past and “wars were imposed on us” but lauded the nation for fighting off those setbacks.
He said that “Pakistan respects all the countries’ sovereignty and wishes peace” but made it clear that the “desire for peace should not be misconstrued as a sign of weakness”.
The president said that it would by myopic of the Indian leadership and a mistake for them to view Pakistan in the pre-Partition light.
“Doing so would be very dangerous for the region’s stability,” he said. “Instead of wars, we should focus on education, health, hunger, employment and extremist mindset. Our real war is against unemployment and poverty.”
“It’s time to set Pakistan on the path towards prosperity and growth. That would be the greatest tribute for the martyrs and ghazis of the country,” he added.
The president thanked Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who was invited to attend as the chief guest, and other dignitaries at the end of his speech.
On Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Twitter that he had received a message from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his best wishes for Republic Day and calling for peace and regional cooperation.
“I welcome PM Modi’s message to our people,” Khan said.
“I believe it’s time to begin a comprehensive dialogue with India to address and resolve all issues.The dispute over the former princely state of Kashmir sparked the first two of three wars between India and Pakistan after independence in 1947. They fought the second in 1965, and a third, largely over what become Bangladesh, in 1971.
Earlier, keeping up with the tradition, a military parade was held at Parade Ground, Shakarparian, which was attended by the top civil and military leadership as well as the foreign dignitaries. It also featured contingents from China, Turkey, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC) General Zubair, Naval Chief Admiral Zafar Mehmood Abbasi, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Minister of Defence of the Republic of Azerbaijan Colonel-General Zakir Hasanov were all in attendance at the parade ground.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a message on the Pakistan Day, said that the government was endeavouring to develop the country as a truly Islamic welfare state and establish a society based on compassion and justice.
The prime minister said today’s Pakistan was a New Pakistan and the government was resolved to establish a society where every person could contribute towards socio-economic development to the best of his ability.
On the eve of celebrations, social media websites were flooded with messages which extended national day greetings.
The official Twitter handle of the Government of Pakistan greeted the nation which “is celebrating Pakistan Day today with a commitment to ensure progress, prosperity and a strong defence of the country”.
The nation is celebrating Pakistan Day today with a commitment to ensure progress, prosperity and a strong defense of the country.#PakistanDay #PakistanZindabad #PakistanDayParade pic.twitter.com/tvI1FKlAec
— Govt of Pakistan (@pid_gov) March 23, 2019
British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew also wished a “happy Pakistan Day”.
Happy Pakistan Day! My best wishes to all Pakistanis.
— Thomas Drew (@TomDrewUK) March 23, 2019
Deputy Chief of Mission, Chinese Embassy Lijian Zao shared a “congratulatory message of Chinese Premier LiKeqiang to Pakistani Prime Minister ImranKhan”.
Chinese Premier LiKeqiang sent a congratulatory message to Pakistani Prime Minister ImranKhan on the occasion of 80th #PakistanDay. Warmest congratulations! @CathayPak @ForeignOfficePk @PakPMO @PDChina @CGTNOfficial @XHNews @DostiFM98 @RadioPakistan @PTVNewsOfficial @WorldPTV pic.twitter.com/LD0Xs7Eu6n
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 23, 2019