Source AP ©

Pakistan celebrates 60th Independence Day

Pakistan is celebrating the 60th independence day on Tuedsay. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz is scheduled to raise the national flag and make an address to the nation at the main Independence Day ceremony in Islamabad later on Tuesday morning.

In the capital, Islamabad, 31 artillery guns boomed at daybreak, marking the start of ceremonies to celebrate Aug. 14, 1947, when independence was granted by British colonial rulers and the subcontinent was partitioned into Muslim Pakistan and Hindu-dominated India.

Military cadets held a ceremony at the domed mausoleum of Quaid-e-Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Pakistan's founder, in Karachi, the country's largest city. Flag-raising ceremonies and more 21-gun salutes also occurred in the four provincial capitals.

The independence celebrations fall as Pakistan heads toward presidential and legislative elections.

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, a close ally of the U.S. in its war against terrorism, is seeking another term as the military head of state, but faces the toughest challenge to his rule since taking power in a bloodless coup in 1999.

Musharraf's bid earlier this year to remove the independent-minded Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry backfired, drawing street protests. The Supreme Court struck down Musharraf's move.

Musharraf also faces rising pressure from Washington to do more to fight al-Qaida and Taliban militants in Pakistan's northwest tribal region bordering Afghanistan, and a wave of suicide bombings and other violence that have killed more than 380 people since early July.

In a statement marking the anniversary, the president urged Pakistanis to reject extremism at the coming elections.

"I urge all Pakistani citizens to get involved in the electoral process and become the instruments of enlightened moderation in their beloved country," Musharraf said.