As elsewhere in the country, the 65th Independence Day was celebrated with great zeal across various parts of Swat, Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), Haripur, Attock and Mirpur.
In Swat, a flag hoisting ceremony was held followed by wreath laying at Shuhda Park, Saidu Sharif. Various schools put up colourful shows where students presented national songs, skits and speeches.
Earlier on Monday, a fireworks display was held at Grassy Ground at midnight which thousands of people enjoyed. Enthusiastic youth of various parties flaunted Pakistani flags and danced to blaring music on different roads of Mingora. During the fireworks and car and bike rallies, the environment echoed with singing and whistling of young people.
Large gatherings were held at various squares of Mingora, where LCD screens were set up for running the national anthem and patriotic songs. The atmosphere reverberated with cheers, whistles and music amidst fireworks. A music show was scheduled at Nishat Square where local musicians performed.
Ornamentation and promises
Meanwhile in G-B, locals decorated houses, shops and cars with colourful stickers and buntings. A 23-gun salutation at dawn in the City Park heralded the day.
A flag-hoisting ceremony was held at Chinar Bagh, where G-B Assembly Speaker Wazir Baig was the chief guest. Several senior civil and military officials, elders and students attended the ceremony. The speakers vowed to sacrifice their lives to defend the country that was obtained after much sacrifice.
Karakoram International University also marked the day with its vice-chancellor hoisting the flag early in the day. Faculty and students participated in the ceremony, during which the university was illuminated with fairy lights during the night.
Vision for future
In Hazara division, district headquarters and educational institutions observed the day with fervour. The national flag was hoisted and the anthem played at the functions arranged at the Hazara University (HU) and Orakzai Model School.
The ceremony at HU’s main campus was attended by the varsity’s chairpersons, deans and teachers of different departments and students. HU Vice-Chancellor Dr Syed Sakhawat Shah said that to meet future challenges, the nation has to focus on modern technology and research-oriented education system.
At Orakzai Model School, students presented skits and sang national songs.
Sporting it up
In Attock, the national flag was hoisted at the Tehsil Municipal Authority premises by a visibly-impaired seventh grader, Wajeeha Shafique, who recently won the 100-metre race of Punjab Sports Competition, along with Jia Kanwal, who topped this year’s Secondary School Certificate examination in Attock district. National songs were presented by students from different schools during the ceremony.
While addressing participants, District Coordination Officer Attock Shakeel Ahmed said, “Today we are not Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Pakhtun, Kashmiri or Muhajirs; today we are all Pakistanis. So let’s join hands in making a better Pakistan where self interest is of least priority and national interest is on the top.” Later, the DCO gave away cash prises to Wajiha and Kanwal for their outstanding achievements.
Likewise in Mirpur, the day dawned with special prayers in mosques for the stability, prosperity and security of Pakistan and for the early success of the Kashmiris indigenous struggle of their right to self-determination. National flag hoisting ceremonies, rallies, processions and other colourful functions were held under the aegis of various public and private sector social and political organisations in Kotli, Bagh, Sudhanoti, Bhimbher, Rawalakot, Havaili, Hattiyan and Neelam valley.
(With additional input from our correspondents in Swat, Gilgit, Haripur, Mirpur and Attock0
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2012.