The PNCA auditorium witnessed hot debates and fiery speeches by young, patriotic children on Thursday, leaving the audience surprised with their wisdom.
The event was held in connection to Independence Day and featured students from four schools. The children’s debates highlighted that celebrating Independence Day is “bittersweet” — though we have gained independence from India and colonialism, we are still living in shackles.
“If we had sincere politicians our country would do much better, but under faulty leadership most of the people can’t reach their potential,” said Aisha Ahmed, a 10-year-old student who won the first prize in the contest.
Her speech addressed the pressing need for hard work to instil and nurture work which would lead to the economy’s stimulation. “We are yet to fulfil our Quaid’s vision of Pakistan,” she remarked.
Her proud grandfather, 79-year-old Nooruddin Qazi, who had come to see her performance, shared his first hand experience of Pakistan’s independence with The Express Tribune.
Qazi feels that the burning light and passion that instigated Pakistan’s creation has gone dim as the majority of the country is crushed under the burden of making ends meet on a daily basis.
He said that the times before partition were ripe with tension between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. “Fights would break out often. We were a minority and were being marginalised,” he said.
Unfortunately, he added, we have not learnt from our own experience and have been insensitive towards minorities. “We are repeating the injustice with Christians.”
Peppering debates were musical performances of patriotic songs (milli naghmay) by children. While all performances were fascinating, two brothers — Talha and Haris — stole the show with Naseem Begum’s “Ae raahe haq ke shaheedo” and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s “Mera Imaan Pakistan”.
“We have been coming here and performing since years now and it is a great platform for us,” said Talha. Neither has had any formal training.
Though most children showed perceptiveness about their country, their misconceptions fostered through biased education were also apparent. Okran Ajmal, a 12-year-old student, aptly noted that extremism and bombings are critical issues. However, he also viewed India as a malicious adversary since before partition. “The Indian Prime Minister said he will give us Kashmir if we lose the World Cup,” he said. He was repeating what he had heard from his teacher.
The event was part of the Pakistan National Council of the Arts’ (PNCA) Independence Day celebrations that will go on till August 14. The celebrations include a poster competition on Friday (today), screening of Jinnah on Monday and a special puppet show, songs and dances on Tuesday, August 14.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2012.