LAHORE: Pakistan Day was marked with rallies, ceremonies and other activities in Lahore as the provincial metropolis witnessed the height of nationalist fervor and enthusiasm.
The day started with a 21-cannon salute at Mehfooz Shaheed Garrison and a ceremony was held to mark the occasion.
Later, a change-of-guard ceremony was held at Allama Iqbal’s mausoleum. A delegation of the Pakistan Rangers and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) paid tribute at Iqbal Mausoleum. Guards from PAF took charge from the rangers.
PAF Base Commander Air Commodore Syed Sabahat Hassan laid a floral wrath on the grave of Iqbal and recorded his comments in the visitors’ book. General Officer Commanding Muhammd Yusif also paid a visit to and laid a floral wrath.
A heavy bike rally was also held and it passed through the whole city before culminating at the Shahi Qila. The participants of the rally said that the purpose was to celebrate the day. A small mela or festival was also organized by the City District Government Lahore (CDGL) at the Lahore canal.
It was held from the Ghous-e-Azam Underpass to the Mall Road Underpass. Traditional stalls were set up on boats between both the underpasses in the canal. The portion of the body of water was decorated with lights and flowers etc.
A marathon, organised by CDGL, was also held at Qaddafi Stadium. More than 2,000 participants, including men and women, participated in the race. Lahore Police made strict security arrangements for the occasion by deploying around 1,000 officials.
A Youm-e-Pakistan Rally was taken out by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and it started from Fateh Garhi. The participants carried a large national flag. The organiser of the event pointed out that the purpose of the procession was to educate people on the importance of the day that the Pakistan Resolution was passed.
He claimed three world records had been set on the occasion – of carrying the longest national flag, the longest and the longest chain carrying the flag. Meanwhile, a grand ceremony was held at the Wagah Border, besides other such events to mark Pakistan Day.
Various groups and social activists gathered at Shadman Roundabout to demand that the monument be renamed after Bhaghat Singh – the freedom fighter who was hanged to death at the very spot on March 23.
Members of the Bhaghat Singh Memorial Foundation, Haqooq e Khalq Movement (HKM), Progressive Students Collective (PSC) and other social activists gathered on Saturday to voice their demand.
The participants carried placards paying tribute to the struggle of Bhaghat Singh and raised slogans related to his struggle. The inscriptions on placards echoed their demands from the government.
The participants sang traditional folk songs written in honor of their struggle. They danced to the tunes and a large number of repeated the verses of “Sarfaroshi Ki Tammana Aaj Hamaray Dil Main Hai. Dekhna Hai Zor Kitna Bazoo-e-Qatil Main Hai” (The spirit of sacrifice is on our hearts. Let’s see how much strength lies in the murderer’s arms).
Advocate Raja Zulqarnain, a speaker on the occasion, said the participants had gathered at the roundabout to show their solidarity with a man whose primary desire was to bring peace to the region.
He said Bhaghat Singh and his comrades, Raj Guru and Sukh Dev, challenged the British Raj and it was due to their struggle that the jail manual was changed.
He said their struggle also enabled the cessation of forced labor from political prisoners. He added Singh was a symbol of cross-cultural and religious harmony as his organization had Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and other religious communities.
“Bhaghat Singh is neither mine nor yours. He belongs to all of us.” The participants said they wanted to show that they had gathered for the sake of humanity.
Another speaker, Ishtiaq Ahmad Chaudhry, said that had accumulated to pay tribute to a great freedom fighter and revolutionary, who had laid the foundation for the freedom movement in the subcontinent.
The protestors demanded that the government rename Shadman Roundabout as Bhaghat Singh Shaheed Chowk.
Historic evidence suggested that Bhaghat Singh, along with Sukh Dev and Raj Guru, were hanged at the chowk as indicated by gallows from the time of the British Raj.