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Celebrations muted for Afghans on Independence Day

Afghanistan is marking the 95th anniversary of its independence from British control in 1919 and Karzai held a ceremony in the Afghan capital of Kabul together with presidential candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. He expressed hope that the two, who apparently recently resolved a dispute over election results, will lead the country to prosperity.  "I am hopeful that they would form such a government which would be owned by the ordinary Afghans," said Karzai. He also accused neighboring Pakistan of interfering in Afghanistan by supporting militants and indiscriminately shelling Afghan border provinces. The celebrations were more muted in the rest of the country, with insecurity, poverty and reliance on foreign powers dampening the mood.  "Today is our Independence Day, another reminder of our rich history that we cannot celebrate wholeheartedly," said political analyst Hashmat Ahmadzai. The Taliban also issued an Independence Day message, saying "true independence" can only be achieved with the departure of foreign troops from Afghanistan.  Seasoned journalist and critic Abdul Hamid Mubariz noted said the celebrations for the "glorious day" have been limited to government buildings but officials should have done more to encourage public celebrations. "Celebrations are essential to commemorate the patriotism of our past heroes and promote the spirit of devotion for the nation among the youth," said Mubaraz.   A 70-year-old taxi driver in the western Khushal Khan district of Kabul blamed the political leadership for the downbeat atmosphere. "They just talk and worry about personal gains, money, property and power, no one seems to care for the motherland," he said.

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