Pakistan marks 70 years of independence in style

ISLAMABAD • Pakistan yesterday celebrated 70 years of independence from Britain with fireworks and plans for the country's largest air display.

Celebrations began at the stroke of midnight with fireworks displays in major cities. At the highly symbolic Wagah border crossing with India, army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa raised a massive national flag as crowds chanted slogans, reported Agence France-Presse.

Following the chest-pumping performance, General Bajwa said the country was making progress and promised to "go after each and every terrorist in Pakistan", just two days after a powerful bomb killed 14 people in the country's restive Balochistan province.

In Islamabad, new Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, along with top generals and foreign dignitaries, observed a 31-gun salute and flag-raising ceremony to mark the holiday.

The air force was also set to host Pakistan's largest air show, with fighter jets and bombers on display.

The celebrations came a day before Pakistan's arch rival India was to observe its own Independence Day today. The Indian capital, New Delhi, has been put on high alert in anticipation of a terror threat, officials said yesterday.

Officials said security had been tightened in various areas of the city, particularly in the Red Fort area from where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation today, reported Xinhua.

Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam wrote to his Indian counterpart, Mr Ram Nath Kovind, to convey the people of Singapore's congratulations on the occasion.

"Since 1947, India has made tremendous strides not only as a nation, but also as a major contributor towards international peace and stability," wrote Dr Tan. "Even before Singapore's independence in 1965, our two countries have been bound by close historical and cultural ties."

Dr Tan noted that 50 years after Singapore achieved independence, in 2015 , relations between the two countries were further bolstered by the signing of the India- Singapore Strategic Partnership, and continue to expand in new areas such as smart cities, skills development and defence cooperation.

"I am confident that the future holds much promise for our special relationship," wrote Dr Tan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2017, with the headline 'Pakistan marks 70 years of independence in style'. Print Edition | Subscribe