Education appeal

Karzai said education was one of the ways Afghans could take the country forward.

"Without education, technology and science we will be under the attack of the foreigners," he said.

"For an independent Afghanistan, our youths have to get an education."

Karzai delivered his address in an arena that once hosted public executions during the Taliban's rule, which came to an end with an invasion by US-led forces in late 2001.

Huge billboards of Afghan figures who had fought against the British empire, Soviet Union and the Taliban were displayed at the stadium.

Afghans display their fighting skills at the
celebration in the capital, Kabul[AFP]
Dan Nolan, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Kabul, said Afghans were divided on the current presence of British troops in Afghanistan.

"At the moment there are 50,000 foreign troops on Afghan soil, and 7,000 of those are British. Some Afghans see those forces as guests in the country who are helping rebuild this place, but others see them as occupying forces," he said.

"As a result of that, many Afghans do not think that Afghanistan is an independent country and they wonder why there are such celebrations as those we are seeing today.

"But every Afghan will tell you that the defeat of the British in 1919 was an amazing achievement for them."

The ceremony was held under tight security, largely provided by Afghan forces but also by some US personnel.

Despite the presence of nearly 50,000 foreign troops in the country, violence has risen sharply during the last two months. Nearly 4,000 people have been killed this year.

Continued instability, particularly affecting the country's south and east, threatens gains made since the Taliban was forced from power.