I wish to extend my heartfelt felicitations to all Pakistanis on the auspicious occasion of the 68th independence day of Pakistan. This day is a powerful reminder of the heroic struggle undertaken by the Muslims of the Sub-continent for a separate homeland where they could live their lives with freedom and dignity, in harmony with their religious and cultural values. Our forefathers underwent great trial and tribulation, with millions suffering the travails of dispossession and exile, and hundreds of thousands laying the ultimate sacrifice at the altar of freedom — so that our children may have a country to call their own, where they could build a prosperous and secure future for themselves.
The day should also recall to us the ideals and aspirations that inspired Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Dr. Allama Mohammad Iqbal. Let us not forget that Pakistan was the culmination of a long and arduous constitutional struggle. It was made possible only because millions of Muslims exercised the oldest, most basic democratic right — the right to vote for their own future. The Pakistan envisioned by the Quaid was to be democratic, moderate and progressive, governed by the rule of law and guaranteeing equal rights to all its citizens. Sadly, too often in our short and turbulent history, we have fallen short of living up to this ideal. So let us, on this day, redeem our pledge to build the Quaid’s Pakistan.
To do this, we must first reclaim our country from the forces of darkness and obscurantism. Operation Zarb-e-Azb is a step in that direction, and it was a step taken with great caution, even reluctance, and only after every other option had been exhausted. Operation Zarb-e-Azb is not simply a campaign to restore the state’s writ to North Waziristan, which had become a breeding ground for terrorism and extremism; it is a battle for the soul of Pakistan. It is thus the duty of all patriotic Pakistanis to stand behind our gallant armed forces as they fight to keep Quaid’s Pakistan alive. This is not the time to sow doubt and confusion. The stakes are simply too high. The need of the hour is for unflinching resolve and absolute unity. It is the only language our enemies understand. I have no doubt that the people and armed forces of Pakistan will Inshallah prevail in this struggle. And our victory would bring Pakistan the peace and stability which is a precondition for growth and development.