Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday celebrated its 61st independence day with traditional flag hoisting ceremonies and fireworks despite growing militant unrest and deadly bombings.
People carrying green and white flags took to the roads on foot and in motorcycles and cars late Wednesday to see decorative lights put up at public and private buildings amid the deafening noise of firecrackers.
The celebrations continued amid ongoing unrest in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, where 35 people were slain on Wednesday, and the killing of seven people in a suicide blast in Lahore, the second largest city in Pakistan.
Sirens blared and all traffic halted for one minute as Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani hoisted the national flag in Islamabad at 9.00 am.
Gilani said the government was “committed to bring relief to the common man, to steer Pakistan out of the current political, economic situation.”
Pakistan is suffering from record inflation due to global surges in the price of fuel and wheat flour, and is suffering a severe electricity shortage.
Gilani vowed to fight the threats of domestic extremism and terrorism, and to forge friendly ties with nuclear-armed rival India, with whom Pakistan fought three wars but has engaged in peace talks since 2004.
Beleaguered President Pervez Musharraf, who is facing the threat of impeachment by the ruling coalition, celebrated the anniversary with his allies.
“The objectives of (the) creation of Pakistan can never be achieved unless we eradicate the evils of terrorism, extremism and intolerance from our society,” Musharraf said in his independence day message.
“Tolerance and forbearance are not only the pre-requisites for the successful working of democracy; but also the cardinal principles of a just Islamic social order,” he said.
Addressing a ceremony overnight, Musharraf called for political reconciliation in Pakistan, in an apparent appeal to opponents who are gearing up their impeachment bid.