Pakistanis celebrated their country’s 60th independence anniversary on Tuesday with fireworks and parades, but many questioned how the country would tackle its biggest threat so far — the rise in domestic terrorism. In a live televised talk show on Monday night, Musharraf told a select audience that his government was fighting terrorism not for the West or for the US, “but for ourselves”.
President Pervez Musharraf marked the anniversary by staunchly defending Pakistan’s sovereignty and calling on the nation to unite against terrorism. Musharraf also said: “I urge all Pakistani citizens to get involved in the electoral process and become instruments of enlightened moderation.”
Musharraf said Al Qaeda and other militant organisations using Pakistan’s border areas posed a threat to the country that must be tackled. “It is time that the entire nation rises against them,” he said. The president said that national elections would be free and fair, would ensure economic stability and would be held in a free media environment.
This year’s celebrations have been more low-key than usual because of tighter security created by the threat from Islamic militants. The federal capital as well as key installations were on red alert on fears of an attack by militants.
At the flag hoisting ceremony, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz declared that “under no circumstances will Pakistan allow foreign forces to enter its territory”.
Aziz also said that Pakistan is “fully alive to its responsibilities as the only Muslim nuclear power,” adding “our nuclear command and control structure is based on firm foundations and we have the capability and power to defend our nuclear assets.”
The flag hoisting ceremony in Islamabad was marred by rain and was shifted to the Convention Centre at the last minute. Later in the day, a minute’s silence commemorated the hundreds of thousands of people who died during the partition.
The PM said Pakistan wants cordial relations with all countries especially its neighbours. Meanwhile, a survey conducted by a local TV channel DAWN News, alongwith partners both in Pakistan and India, revealed that a majority of urban Pakistanis do not want to see Kashmir’s accession to India but at the same time expect that their lot will improve in the years to come.