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Pakistan scraps independence celebrations

ISLAMABAD, Aug 13 AFP - Pakistan will hold no official independence day celebrations on Saturday other than hoisting the national flag, out of deference to the 14 million people affected by unprecedented floods.

President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the military have scrapped the usual festivities.

“The president has decided that he will hold no celebrations in the presidency,” Zardari’s spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, told AFP.

In his independence day message, the president will call on people “to come out and help your grief-stricken brethren,” Babar said.

Zardari will also visit flood-affected areas in the northwest and the central province of Punjab.The president has come under fire from flood victims, the political opposition and critics for his failure to cut short a visit to Europe last week to deal personally with what is now the country’s worst humanitarian crisis.On Thursday, he visited a hard-hit area in the southern province of Sindh and met survivors for the first time, two weeks after the floods began.

Gilani has also scrapped official independence day celebrations, however the flag hoisting ceremony will take place, the spokesman said.The chief of staff of the army, General Ashfaq Kayani, also announced that the military had scrapped celebrations on Saturday and on September 6 and said that the money saved would be spent instead on relief efforts.

 

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