Pakistani President Asif Zardari lifted a ban on political activities
in the country's tribal regions Friday, as Pakistanis held celebrations
marking the country's Independence Day.
semi-autonomous tribal regions along the Afghan border have never been
integrated into the country's political and administrative system,
allowing militants and tribal elders to hold sway.
is the first major break with the system Pakistan inherited from
Britain, which ruled the region until the country gained independence
Police and security forces were on high alert during
Independence Day celebrations across Pakistan to prevent militant
groups from disrupting festivities.
Children in the capital of
Islamabad sang songs and waved Pakistani flags. In Karachi, military
officers marched in a parade while the Pakistan Naval Academy band
In his Independence Day speech,
Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said Pakistan wants peace with all of
its neighbors, and he expressed hope that talks with India will
progress. He also reiterated the government's resolve to defeat
Mr. Zardari also called on the people to adhere to
principles of democracy and human rights, and to defeat dictatorship
and extremism to help provide economic opportunities in the country.
Thursday, Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani told the Pakistan
Military Academy Kakul that Islam will always be the "soul and spirit"
of Pakistan. But he criticized terrorists, saying they try to impose
their "narrow and distorted" version of Islam by force.
was created after India gained independence from Britain in 1947. The
subcontinent was divided into Muslim Pakistan and Hindu-dominated India.
the partition, some 10 million people are estimated to have crossed the
borders in both directions. Hundreds of thousands of people died in
sectarian fighting during the partition process.
Pakistani officials in India also marked the country's independence, celebrating at the High Commission in New Delhi.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.