Happy Birthday Pakistan!
As the flag flies high above almost anything stationary or moving, Pakistan sees an Independence Day spirit not common in many parts of the world.
While BBQs and family gatherings are seen across the globe on Independence Day, Pakistan sees a great increase in the consumption of fuel and hospitals get ready to entertain the victims of the hooliganism that takes place on this fortunate night.
As the sun starts to set, the youth of Pakistan feel it’s their duty to patrol all the major avenues in their respective cities, or better yet, start wheeling around. Families come out to see the lights, and even though for the past four years we’ve had an energy crisis, people have not faltered in their tradition of planning a family outing on Jinnah Avenue.
This year August 14 falls right in the middle of Ramazan, however, from the views The Express Tribune has gotten, Islamabad’s spirit of Independence Day has not faltered.
Bilal, a young salesman at Illusions, said, “Ramazan or no Ramazan, we will be patrolling the streets and dancing to national songs.”
There are distinct groups of people that can be seen on the Independence Day eve:
The Patrolling Squad
This group is the most predominant bunch of young souls out there to show the country that they are still alive and kicking. They might not do anything all year, but on Independence Day they feel it’s their right to come out on the streets dancing and prancing. Riding cars, motorbike and even an occasional donkey cart, you can never miss the Patrolling Squad.
Aqeel Mohammad, who works at a newsstand, said, “Nothing can stop us from coming out on the roads! We wait every year for it.”
The concerned parent
Each year throngs of families come out to witness the “lights” and each year they go home cribbing and disappointed due to the mad rush caused by the ‘patrolling squad’. Fathers yell for the safety of those wheeling around and swear that next year they will never come out, and yet, as the next year rolls around, you will see them out again doing that exact same thing.
Fariha, a housewife, said, “We take the kids out every year. Its madness and a little dangerous but it’s a tradition.”
The poor law enforcer
Also known as the police, this group is diminished and almost washed out and regardless what they try to do they are overpowered and outnumbered. The more they try to control the situation the more it gets out of hand.
But they are not willing to give in so easy this year. “This time police falcons and motorbike squads have been deployed along the expressway and other highways to check one-wheeling and car races,” said Khalid Awan, an inspector at Rescue 15.
The nonchalant crew
This group comprises of the sane people who, by default or by using their better judgment, realise that it is not wise to get out and stay at home to relax or hang out with some friends.
Amna, a lawyer, said, “It is too crowded and gross to go out. I’d rather sit at home safe than hurling curses at the craziness that happens on 14th August.”
Even though much hasn’t changed this year and most people plan on celebrating Independence Day as usual and want to start after iftari and continue on till sehri time, some people feel that the celebrations this year should be mellow in memory of all the people who lost their lives.
A group of educated and aware citizens of Islamabad realise the gravity of the situation our country is going through and for that reason they have organised an event “Say a little Prayer” at the park next to Rendezvous and Civil Junction in F-7, from 8 to 10pm, to pray for the betterment of Pakistan’s future.
Nadeem Chawhan, a well-known motivational speaker will be speaking at the event along with a few other individuals who have made efforts to change lives for the better.
What this group of young patriots is doing is not a political rally or a protest but a peaceful gathering of like-minded people who want peace and prosperity in the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2011.