ISLAMABAD: Before the weather turned rainy in the afternoon on March 23 and people tuned their TV sets to the Pakistan-Australia T20 cricket match, Islamabad residents woke up in the morning to the sound of a 31-gun salute.
The celebratory fire marked the start of Pakistan Day, a national holiday to commemorate the passage of the Lahore Resolution on March 23, 1940.
The federal capital remained busy with celebrations throughout the day, with festive activities taking place at Fatima Jinnah Park, Lok Virsa and the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA).
Meanwhile, the Capital Development Authority (CDA), Critical Mass Islamabad and the Islamabad Cycling Association jointly organised the Margallah Cycle Race on Sunday morning.
Cyclists from different Pakistani cities participated in the 20-kilometre cycle race, which started and ended at the Fatima Jinnah Park after passing through Jinnah Avenue, Ataturk Avenue and Margalla Road.
CDA Sports and Culture Director General Asif Shahjehan distributed prizes among the three winning cyclists — Tayyab, Owais Khan and Muhammad Bilal.
Shahjehan said the agency is considering building a 44-kilometre long cycling track in the capital and will also support future cycling events.
With the national holiday falling on a Sunday, the capital’s roads appeared relatively tranquil during the day.
But Lok Virsa attracted some visitors from the twin cities with its ongoing exhibition of cultural heritage, where artisans from across the country have displayed their works.
The crafts on display include embroidery, metal work, rugs, shawls, truck art and wood carvings among other things.
The PNCA celebrated the country’s republic day with its ongoing exhibition of paintings, portraits and belongings of the country’s founding father Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
The Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP) organised a Pakistan Paindabad road safety rally featuring heavy bikes, which has started to become an ITP tradition of sorts. The heavy bikes roamed around outside Fatima Jinnah Park and some riders performed wheelies inside the park for spectators.
But a spell of the rain during the afternoon and a tense World T20 match between Pakistan and Australia that continued in to the evening took the sting off the celebrations.
The PNCA wrapped up its Pakistan Day weekend activities with a musical event on Sunday evening. The event featured local and folk artists who performed national songs and folk tunes with messages of national unity.
Artistes from all over Pakistan participated in the programme. The show opened with presentation by singers from Gilgit-Baltistan. DW Baig and his group presented “Lal Badakhshan and a jon” with beautiful tunes. Raja Imran from Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) presented “Sindh Sarhad Punjab Balochistan main rehta hoon” and “Sohna Kashmira”.
Dil Raj from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa presented “Rasha Janana” and Spini Spogmai”. Another Pashto singer, Gulrez Tabassum, sang the famous number “Bibi Shirin”, Larsha Pekhawarta” and “Pa ro ro keda kadamona”.
This was followed by Rizwana Khan’s “Is parcham ke sai tale” and “Bismillah karan”. Zeba Sanam presented Sindhi, Brahvi and Balochi songs.
Waqas Ali sang “Dil dil Pakistan” and “Hona tha piyar”. Zangi Khan from Balochistan presented “Bandook na palaq” and “Khrez gandi ophal” with his young son supporting him. Popular folk singer Qurban Niazi received applause for “Terei ishq nachaya” and Des dey maiye”.
The last singer of the evening, Gulshan Jehan, warmed up the auditorium with popular songs by Noor Jehan including “Roshan meri ankhoon main”, Aye mausim rangile, Sabto sohrian and Dhamal “Lal meri patt”. A large number of enthusiasts from all walks of life attended the show despite the rain.
Meanwhile, the University of AJK held an event in Muzaffarabad to pay homage to the leaders who created Pakistan. Students of the university agreed that Pakistan Day was an important occasion in the country’s history which should be commemorated properly.
In a separate event, the religious group Jamaatud Dawah took out a rally from Chela to Central Press Club to mark the day, while private schools also organised functions in connection with the day.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2014.
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