LAHORE: Citizens marked Pakistan’s 64th Independence Day with great enthusiasm in flag-raising ceremonies and general celebrations on the streets on Sunday.
Young people wore green clothes and danced and sang patriotic songs at Liberty Market, Minar-i-Pakistan and The Mall. Cars were decorated with flags, banners and balloons. Children had the flag painted on their faces at various stalls. As in previous years, groups of young motorcyclists got together and did stunts on the roads.
Muhammad Danyal, 3, had the national flag painted on his cheeks to celebrate Independence Day. “I am too young to go out alone or drive a car or motorcycle so this is my way of celebrating,” he said.
Shopkeepers and traders said that they had done good business selling flags and badges and other merchandise, even managing to sell off goods that had been left in their stores from last year. They said that last year’s sales had been slower because of the floods.
Mulazim Hussain usually sells stationary in Urdu Bazaar, but also sells Independence Day merchandise in the first two weeks of August each year.
“I bought too much stuff last year and there was a poor response from customers because of the floods,” he said. “I stored the goods at home. This year I have been able to recover my losses.”
Muhammad Tanvir, a wholesale dealer at the Urdu Bazaar on Ganpat Road, said that sales had picked up in the last two days before August 14.
“Traders were careful this time and invested very little money,” he said. “Luckily there were no floods this year that kept people from coming to the market.”
Many complained that the merchandise was too expensive.
“Inflation and load-shedding have ruined my life. I’m here because of the children, otherwise I can’t afford this kind of stuff,” said Akram, who was visiting Urdu Bazaar with his four children.
There were various formal events to mark the day, starting with a 21-gun salute at Fortress Stadium at dawn. The Motorway Police handed out flags, flowers and sweets to drivers at toll plazas across the province.
The national flag was hoisted at Lahore Corps Headquarters and the order of the day read out to the troops from the army chief. Official flag-raising ceremonies were held at Wagha, Hazoori Bagh, Iqbal’s mausoleum and the Punjab Assembly.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2011.