August 14 used to mean dressing up in green and white, waking up early to go to school to sing the national anthem and wave flags, and then going for breakfast. Nights were spent going for a drive to see lit up buildings and maybe grabbing chaat or kabab roll.
Pakistan’s 63rd Independence Day is marred with the death and destruction brought about by the worst floods in the country’s history, the Pakistan Army has cancelled events planned for August 14 and instead the money will be used for relief activities. Many Pakistani’s are mirroring this gesture and are not celebrating the day when so many around them are suffering.
“In the previous years I had a lot more jazba, I felt I had to go out wearing green and white shalwar kameez, sing the national anthem and blast out Pakistani songs on my car deck. Halwa puri with friends was a must and I felt it was a special day. This year spirits are down because so much has gone wrong; the plane crash, the floods, the shootings in Karachi and the president spending millions on a trip when others needed that money. However, last night I saw a Ufone advertisement in which a blind man was saying “Shukriah Pakistan”, he said he couldn’t see Pakistan but he could feel it. This made me want to go out and buy a flag for my house.”
Madiha Tanveer, student at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture
“I celebrated August 14 wholeheartedly last year. I placed a flag on my car’s bonnet, one above the window and a larger one on my rooftop. This year, maybe it’s because of the floods but there is a lot of sorrow and sadness in the air. I haven’t bought a single flag as yet and I’m ashamed of that fact that I’m not celebrating like I used to.”
Muntazir Haider, Institute of Business Administration graduate
“Primarily there are arrangements in the convention centre. It’s the same this year as well. At the operational level, at least, nothing has changed. The government seems least motivated to simplify things despite the floods.”
Anonymous, Civil Services Officer
“I used to put flags on my car, made sure I sung the national anthem and wore shalwar kameez. This year I will again wear shalwar kameez and a flag pin but I am not in the mood to celebrate. I haven’t yet bought a flag for my house but if I do then I think I will put it at half mast because of all that’s happened in the country recently.”
Mustafa Ahmed, Marketing Manager
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2010.