ISLAMABAD - President Asif Ali Zardari has emphasised that Pakistani nation needs to rededicate itself to the ideals of national unity and harmony in the spirit of September 6th to confront the present day challenges.

Addressing the Defence Day celebrations here at Joint Staff Headquarters in Chaklala Rawalpindi on Thursday, he said that the country is faced with militancy, terrorism and sectarianism and the militants have threatened our national integrity.  He said that the extremists want to impose their political agenda on the people through bullet. But, the President continued, "We cannot allow this. We must not allow this. Indeed we will never allow this."

"We will fight them to the finish", the President said in a resolute manner.

The President said that September 6th is a memorable day in our national calendar.  He said that the significance of this day will never be erased from our memories.  On this day in 1965, he said, the unity displayed by the nation in standing behind its Armed Forces is unforgettable.

The courage displayed by the officers and soldiers on this day will always be remembered, the President said.

The President said that while commemorating the Defence Day, three elements stand out.

The justness of the cause, the selflessness of the people, and, third, the commitment and courage of our Armed Forces enabled us to face the challenge to our existence, he said.

Today, we pay homage to our national heroes. They remained steadfast against heavy odds. Many laid down their lives so that we lived in freedom and with honour, the President remarked.

He said that we are indebted to them.

"The whole nation is beholden to them; to our heroes.".  The President on the occasion said that he has asked the Government of Sindh for allotment of plots to the heirs of Shaheeds of war on terrorism.

The President said that Pakistan has come a long way since 1965. Today, the defence of the country is much stronger. We have made great progress in achieving self-reliance in defence capability, he added.  He said that armaments are necessary for defence. But effective defence lies not merely in armaments. It also lies in economic development, social cohesion and national unity, the President remarked.  He said that we are seeking to make our defence capability even stronger. President Zardari said that we believe that peace is essential for development and progress. We believe in peace with honour, he said.

Pakistan, he said, has initiated the process of dialogue in the region. The dialogue is aimed at peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes including the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir, he added.

He said that we need peace to focus energies on improving the lives of the people.The President said that Pakistan seeks good relations with all based on mutual respect and equality.

He also reiterated Pakistan's desire for peace in Afghanistan and in the region. A peaceful and stable Afghanistan, he said, is in our national interest. We support an Afghan led and Afghan owned reconciliation process in Afghanistan, he added. On this occasion, the President also recounted wide ranging reforms that have been initiated to strengthen national integrity.

He said that we have strengthened the Federation by empowering the federating units, the provinces. He said that the 18th Amendment has empowered the provinces. The Concurrent List has been abolished to enhance the autonomy of federating units, he said.

Today, the President noted, the provinces enjoy far greater financial and administrative autonomy. Their share in the Federation's resources has increased. Today they are more prosperous than before, he said. He said that Gilgit-Baltistan has given greater autonomy while reforms have been initiated in FATA while respecting their customs and traditions.

These reforms, he said, will have far reaching consequences and would help bring Tribal Areas into political mainstream. Zardari said that we are armed with two formidable weapons. One, the resolve of our people against aggression, and, second, the commitment and readiness of our Armed Forces against any aggression, he stated.