Glaring disrespect: Mickey ka Pakistan

Iconic Disney character takes over minorities’ share; few know defacing flag is illegal.

Umer Nangiana August 15, 2011


The national flag is more than just a piece of cloth, a fact that even children are aware of. They grow up to respect their national flag as the nation’s identity and a symbol of its dignity, its sovereignty and its greatness.

When the fervor to celebrate Independence Day begins in early August every year, it is always the children who rush out at the earliest with national flags of different sizes on their bicycles and tattooed on their faces. Just the sight of the national flag itself is enough to attract them.

Unfortunately, for the past few years certain ignorant traders have regularly sold national flags with a picture of ‘Mickey Mouse’ painted on the white part.

This Independence Day also witnessed dozens, if not hundreds, of such flags. No one seems to know who first put Mr Mickey on the flag and allowed him to encroach on the space reserved for minorities.

“I do not know who paints it. We purchase them from the wholesale dealers, said Abrar Ahmed, a vendor in G-9 Markaz, who had set up a stall in the market especially for Independence Day. He said that parents usually asked for the Mickey Mouse flags for their children. He added that very few children who visited his shop were actually looking for the Mickey Mouse flags.

“I’m not a baby anymore,” replied eight-year-old Mehrunnisa, a resident of G-9/4, when asked why she was not buying a Mickey Mouse flag. Her father said they never noticed the cartoon painted on the flag.

“For us it was just a national flag and I do not think it matters a lot,” he said.

Like many others, he was not aware of the fact that tampering with the original design of the flag is an offence punishable under law with three years imprisonment.

“Desecrating or disrespecting the national flag is an offence under article 123-B and, its penalty is three years imprisonment” said Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood.

However, there was not a single case where the police or any other authority had taken action against people making or selling national flags with pictures of a cartoon character on them.

The design of the national flag approved by the first Legislative Assembly of Pakistan in 1947 was green and white
colour in the proportion of two to three. The green part had to have a crescent and a star on it.

The first prime minister of the country, Liaquat Ali Khan had clearly stated that the white part of the flag represented the minorities of
the country.

In grave violation of the design approved by the national legislature and the founders of the country, illiterate traders have continuously been tampering with the
national flag for years, hurting many hearts.

Journalist Chris Cork found the flags an affront to the minorities of Pakistan.

Another journalist felt it was US soft power. “Shows our subconscious subservience to the US achieved through mass media. That was for ole Mickey though” said Imran Khan, the Editor-in-Chief of WorldCall Services.

“Green is the colour of Islam and white stands for purity. We love our flag. Really do. We salute our flag. Mind you we will only salute our own flag. We owe allegiance to it” added Sohail Mehmood, a consultant at the World Bank.

However, right under the nose of authorities in the federal capital, certain people continue showing disrespect to the national flag and were still free to repeat it the next year as well.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2011.