Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has underlined the need to summon the spirit that marked the Independence Movement and employ the lesson of unity and self-belief to chart the way forward. “There is no denying the importance of many milestones we have achieved in the last seven and a half decades, often against opposing circumstances. We have faced the worst natural disasters, conflicts and wars and always managed to build back better. All along the way, we have jealously guarded the gift of freedom that we so passionately prize, the prime minister said in a message on the celebration of 76th anniversary of Pakistan’s Independence. The prime minister extended his heartfelt congratulations to the entire nation including overseas Pakistanis on the celebration of the Independence Day. “The 14th of August is more than just a date; it is a symbol of the Pakistani nation’s resilience, courage and unwavering commitment to freedom. As the nation commemorates this day, it is an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices of the past, celebrate the achievements of the present, and envision a brighter future for our people,” a press release quoted the prime minister as saying. The prime minister said the spirit of independence continued to inspire Pakistanis to overcome challenges and work towards a nation that embodied the principles of justice, equality, and prosperity for all. “On this day, let us remember the sacrifices of our forefathers and pledge to uphold the values that define our great nation,” he added. The prime minister said the day held a special significance in their hearts, for this historic day saw an unprecedented freedom struggle culminating in the establishment of the state of Pakistan. Today, they paid rich tributes to the men, women and children who got together under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to struggle for the creation of a land they could call home, he added. In the process, the prime minister said, they established a glorious example of commitment and devotion to the cause of Pakistan. “I also take this opportunity to pay homage to the Quaid-i-Azam’s visionary leadership and other leaders without whom the dream of Pakistan could not see the light of day. The nation will eternally remain indebted to them for gifting us with the precious gift of freedom,” he added. The freedom struggle for a separate homeland represented an idea; an idea rooted in self-assertion and hope of a better tomorrow, he said, adding it was for a country where the people could explore their potential and live a life in peace and prosperity in line with their glorious traditions, ethos, culture and values. The idea of Pakistan was much bigger than they could imagine; it was an aspiration, which was shaped by a fear of living under the majoritarian principle advocated by Congress, he added. The prime minister said Quaid-i-Azam challenged this interpretation, which was meant to suppress Muslims’ identity and keep them as a minority under the garb of Western democracy. The prime minister further said on the one hand, he established that Muslims were a separate nation in every sense and their demand for a separate homeland was historically justified and warned that forcing them to live in a large country under the principle of majoritarianism was a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, he led a peaceful democratic and political struggle. So staunch was his determination and belief unwavering in the justness of his cause that the combined opposition of the ruling British and Congress failed to dent his resolve, the prime minister added. “Two lessons are noteworthy in this regard. One, unity was one of the most remarkable aspects of Pakistan’s independence that emerged from a diverse tapestry of cultures, languages, and ethnicities,” he observed. The prime minister said 14th of August was not only a celebration of political freedom; it was a testament to the ability of a nation to come together to overcome mammoth challenges. Pakistan’s flag, he said, with its green representing the Muslim majority and white symbolizing religious minorities, embodied the principle of unity in diversity that continues to shape the nation’s identity. Second, no obstacle is too insurmountable to be overcome if a person is driven by a deep sense of purpose. Self-belief ignites the imagination of nations and powers their journey towards the destination. The prime minister further said on the day, they stood in complete solidarity with the oppressed people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK), who were waging a struggle for their right to self-determination. Pakistan remained committed to providing political, moral, and diplomatic support to them. Despite a four-year military siege and complete information blackout, the people of IIOJK have displayed remarkable resilience and defiance against the Indian oppressive apparatus, he added. “We call upon the international community and human rights organizations to take note of the rights abuses in IIOJK. Our stance remains firm, advocating for a peaceful resolution of the dispute in line with the UN resolutions, recognizing the right of Kashmiri people to decide their own future through a free and fair plebiscite,” the prime minister stressed.