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Pakistan Marks 70 Years Of Statehood, Independence


Pakistan is celebrating 70 years of statehood and independence, with President Mamnoon Hussain appealing to Pakistani citizens to "rise above" their party and group interests and "protect the future of the nation."

Hussain was addressing an August 14 ceremony in Islamabad attended by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and visiting Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang.

The Pakistani Air Force later put on a spectacular airshow above the capital, with planes from allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey also taking part.

At the Wagah eastern border crossing with India, Pakistan's army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, said the country was making progress and promised to "go after each and every terrorist in Pakistan."

In the seven decades since Pakistan's independence, Washington and Islamabad have "worked closely together to advance our mutual interests of democracy, stability, security, and economic development in Pakistan and across the region," U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.

"Today, the United States joins the people of Pakistan in celebrating this anniversary and our 70-year relationship, as we continue to work together in the years ahead."

Pakistan gained independence when the British left India and split the subcontinent in 1947, sparking one of the most violent upheavals of the 20th century.

India, the historic rival of Pakistan, marks its independence one day later, on August 15.

The two nuclear-armed states share a tense relationship, primarily over the disputed territory of Kashmir, which has sparked two wars between them.

For the Pakistanis, the anniversary comes amid political turmoil that has characterized successive civilian governments of the country, which has been dominated by military rule through much of its history.

Last month, the Supreme Court disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office on July 28 over undisclosed wealth. Sharif stepped down, but decried the court's ruling as an injustice.

Security was on high alert across Pakistan after a suicide bomber on a motorcycle targeted a military truck in the southwestern city of Quetta on August 13, killing 15 people, including soldiers and civilians. The was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Quetta is the capital of resource-rich Balochistan Province, which has been plagued by sectarian violence, Islamist militant attacks, and a separatist insurgency that has led to thousands of casualties since 2004.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and the BBC
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