SWAT: Independence Day has always been celebrated with great pomp and show in Swat. Public and private buildings would be carefully decorated with the Pakistani flags and preparations would start from August 1 and continue till late of August 14. The day normally used to be characterised with students vigorously decorating their classrooms, which would be visited by high officials and the best decorated class would then be awarded a prize.
This year, however, no such activity was found either in private or public institutes.
Government Wadudia High School for Boys Vice-Principal, Muzafar Hussain, said that this year the school did not get any directives from the education department to celebrate the event. He said they have been invited by the education department to Government High School No2 Mingora, where, “I think, the Independence Day will be celebrated”.
About the lack of interest in celebrating Independence Day, Government Girls Centennial High School Principal Saidu Sharif told The Express Tribune that Independence Day celebrations should not be ignored either because of Ramazan or it being a Sunday, “in fact, it should be celebrated with reverence as this month signifies gratitude”.
Bakht Sher Ali, owner of a stall selling August 14 paraphernalia said, “There was a time when we would sell items for as much as Rs500,000 in this month, but this year we hardly had sales of Rs20,000.” He said inflation has paralysed the society and the common man cannot even afford to fulfil his basic needs, let alone indulge in these frivolities.
However, Asmat Ali, a student of grade seven did not share the “pessimistic” approach of his country mates. Displaying a tiny flag on his chest and humming to the song, “Dil Dil Pakistan, Jaan Jaan Pakistan” (My heart and soul is for my homeland), he said, “If others do not celebrate this day, so what. I will celebrate it because I love my country.”
When Education District Officer Kamin Khan was asked about the lack of interest in celebrating the Independence Day by education department, he said, “Hundreds of our schools are in rubbles, which obviously has shadowed August 14 celebrations. However, we have verbally directed some of the schools to celebrate the day but it being a Sunday, most of the staff has gone home, though the locals are still celebrating.”
Apart from the public sector, flag raising ceremonies were held at different government buildings like DCO office and TMA office Mingora.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2011.