As people from the twin cities flocked to the capital to partake in Independence Day celebrations, cultural organisations arranged colourful and lively programmes to entertain people, particularly youth and children. The day opened with a flag hoisting ceremony at the Convention Centre, where children gave a colourful performance to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
The prime minister urged the youth to explore their hidden talents and excel in all fields of life through active participation in healthy activities.
“Be it performing arts, music, literature or anything else, do what you aspire beside regular studies,” he told the children, who were attired in colourful regional dresses. He also asked Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi to help the children in their fields of choice by imparting training to them with Pakistan Television, Radio Pakistan and the Pakistan National Council of Arts. “The young generation can go a long way in improving the country’s image and preserving the national arts,” he remarked.
The prime minister chose to interact with the children instead of giving a speech. He asked students about their schools and the selection criteria to perform. The children, who belong to several public and private schools of the federal capital, said they were selected following an audition before undergoing a training process. The prime minister assured that high-achieving students would be given scholarships and would be included in youth delegations to sent abroad.
However, during the interactive session a number of children did complained about the poor quality of education in the country. They said the increasing trend of cheating in examinations was leading to a decline in the standard of education.
The students also informed the prime minister about the problems they faced in attaining education due to high tuition fees. The prime minister assured them he would lend all-out support and directed the cabinet secretary to look into the matter.
Sethi said that the government had tried to change the pattern over the years.
Meanwhile, children of the twin cities were enthralled by a variety of programmes at the National Art Gallery. The event opened with a puppet show which enlightened children about the history of Pakistan through puppets. Different groups of children recited Quranic verses, presented Naats, tableaus and national songs to commemorate the day. Patriotic speeches were also delivered. Instrumental music on flute and guitar added delight, ending on a note of keyboard special bhangra dance.
At Lok Virsa, an exhibition of artisans-at-work featured master artisans in the fields of embroidery, paper mache, truck art, shawl weaving, doll making, zari work and pottery. Prominent among the craftspeople was Zulfiqar Ghazi, who specialises in the famous Kashmiri art of paper mache. His other occupations include miniatures, stained glass, fabric designing and traditional furniture painting. Ghazi paints, floral motifs, birds, animals, Mughal monarchs in his paintings as well on paper mache artefacts. With artistic skills and creativity running in his veins, Ghazi is determined to preserve and revive the golden era of Mughals. He has participated in scores of festivals, fairs and exhibitions in the country and abroad and won accolades in recognition of his talent.
Fazle Wahid, another young artisan from Swat, demonstrated his expertise in shawl-weaving. His artistic career boasts over 20 years of experience in this field. He learnt the art of weaving from his father, in his youth. He makes a rare style of Swati shawl from Fatehpur village. He is the recipient of the UNESCO seal of excellence 2007 for handicraft products.
Amusement activities and games arranged for children included jumping jacks and mechanical swings. The Pakistan National Museum of Ethnology, popularly called as Heritage Museum, at
Garden Avenue and National Monument Museum, adjacent to the Pakistan Monument atop Shakarparian hills also remained open for public throughout the day. A fifty per cent rebate on museum entry tickets for adults was granted by Lok Virsa authorities in order to maximise visitor participation in the celebrations.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2011.