Islamabad: Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday blamed India for the impasse in bilateral ties, saying New Delhi’s “expansionist designs" was the “main hurdle" in constructive relations between the two neighbour.

Addressing the nation on its 70th Independence Day, Abbasi said Pakistan “desires positive and constructive" relations with all countries based on sovereign equality.

“Our government has invariably made efforts to initiate the process of meaningful dialogue and adoption of peaceful means to resolve the issues, but unfortunately the expansionist designs of India have remained the main hurdle in this regard," he said, as Chinese vice premier Wang Yang attended the celebrations as a “special guest" of the country.

Yang arrived in Pakistan on Sunday, for the event. He said that China and Pakistan have “always stood by each other in difficult times and their friendship will stand the test of time and grow with coming generations."

Abbasi called on the international community to “play its role" in resolving regional conflicts, “particularly the Kashmir dispute" between India and Pakistan in conformity with the UN resolutions to ensure durable peace in the region.

Abbasi, 58, was sworn-in as Pakistan’s 18th prime minister on 1 August after the Supreme Court disqualified the incumbent Nawaz Sharif for dishonesty following the Panama papers scandal.

“The people of South Asia have suffered enormously in the last fifty years, due to the festering conflicts. Until and unless those conflicts are resolved amicably the people of the region cannot achieve prosperity and progress," he said.

President Mamnoon Hussain, in his address, called for unity among the people for a developed Pakistan. He said it is time to forget “personal grievances" and stand by the Constitution, apparently referring to Sharif’s ouster as prime minister and his charge that his removal was “pre-planned".

The day began with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital Islamabad, along with a 21-gun salute in provincial capitals to mark the official Independence Day celebrations. Major public and private buildings, roads and avenues have been decorated with national flags, portraits of the national leaders, banners and buntings to give a festive look.

Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa hoisted a huge national flag at the Attari-Wagah border with India soon after midnight last night, kicking off the day-long celebration. The flag flew at 400 feet, the highest in South Asia. The 120x80 feet flag is also the largest in the history of the country, Pakistani media reported. PTI

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