ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's president on Friday renewed an offer to archrival India to hold bilateral talks to resolve the issue of the disputed Kashmir region, among other outstanding matters between the two neighbors.
In a televised speech marking Pakistan's Independence Day, President Mamnoon Hussain said his nation believes in "peaceful co-existence," though it would not comprise if its defense and security came under threat.
"We want to resolve all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, with India," he told a gathering of students, government and military officials in the capital, Islamabad.
Security was tight and troops guarded the Convention Center where Hussain, along with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, hoisted the national flag to kick off Independence Day celebrations.
Pakistan won independence from Britain on Aug. 14, 1947 and the day is marked each year with rallies and other celebrations.
Pakistan and India have a history of uneasy relations. Since 1947, they have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, a divided region today that is claimed by both countries. The region is divided into sectors and there is a Line of Control that separates Pakistan-controlled Kashmir from Indian-held Kashmir.
There was no immediate response from New Delhi on Hussain's offer.
As the celebrations got underway, Pakistani military reported "unprovoked shooting" from the Indian-held side of Kashmir, from Nezapir and Rawalakot sectors. It said Pakistani forces were responding.
However, Indian army spokesman Lt. Col. Manish Mehta blamed Pakistan, saying the Pakistanis have been firing mortars, grenades and machine-guns at Indian positions in the Poonch sector "intermittently for the last five days."
"We've given them a befitting reply," he said, denouncing what he called "unprovoked, ceasefire violations" by Pakistan.
Associated Press Writer Aijaz Hussain from Srinagar, India, contributed to this report.