Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, in his Independence Day message, urged his people to defend democracy and promote tolerance. Tuesday marked the 65th anniversary of the country\'s independence, which falls a day before that of neighboring India. Both countries became independent in August 1947, ending Britain\'s colonial rule of the subcontinent. Speaking at a special ceremony in Islamabad, Zardari said all forms of bigotry, extremism and militancy must be banished from the country, the Express Tribune reported. Calling militancy the greatest threat and its defeat a great challenge, the newspaper quoted the president as saying: \"For this, we must defend democracy and promote tolerance, discussion and debate.\" Zardari also called Parliament the voice of the people and said it cannot be silenced by \"new forms of assault,\" the Express Tribune said. The Pakistani government is under pressure from the country\'s Supreme Court to write to Swiss authorities to reopen alleged graft cases against Zardari. The government, however, has said the cases cannot be reopened as Zardari enjoys presidential immunity. The high court recently ruled unconstitutional a new Parliament-passed law exempting top government officials from contempt of court charges. On other issues, the Press Trust of India news agency reported Zardari announced a system of local governance would be introduced in the country\'s tribal areas by next year. U.S. officials have said the tribal areas are used by al-Qaida and the Taliban as havens to launch attacks on American and NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan. Zardari said the local self-governance system would be based on the wishes and tradition of people in the tribal areas, adding: \"We owe it to the people and to the peace and stability of the country, and the region, to bring these areas into the mainstream of national life,\" PTI reported.