ISLAMABAD: The government of Pakistan unveiled on Thursday a 30-day plan to mark the country's 68th Independence Day.
The ceremonies will commence on August 1 with Friday prayers and conclude with a march-past and fly-past in front of Parliament House on the night of August 13, revealed Railways Minister Saad Rafique.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Rafique went on to add that there would be a 21-gun salute and special prayers for the country on the morning of August 14.
Further, he added, a national flag hoisting ceremony will be held either at the Convention Centre or at the Presidency and there will be azadi walks in different cities of the country.
During these 30 days, the minister said, all parliamentarians will be asked to visit the graves of martyrs in their respective areas and meet their families to express solidarity.
Sports activities will also be held throughout the country as well as national mushaira, debating contests, national conference on ‘Quaid’s concept of Pakistan’, and a youth conference to be coordinated by Minister for Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal. Competitions will also be held at schools, colleges and universities.
Additionally, similar ceremonies and events will be organised outside Pakistan through diplomatic missions.
The government also announced that Pakistan Railways will run a special independence train throughout the month of August.
"The azadi train will begin its journey from Peshawar on August 11 and after covering a distance of 4000 kilometers will reach Karachi on September 11,” said Rafique.
To highlight the freedom movement and sacrifices of the armed forces, two compartments of the train will be allocated to Inter-Services Public Relations. While, one compartment will be allocated to Pakistan Railways to highlight the history of Pakistan and another to the Ministry of Information.
The train will consist of six floats representing the culture of the four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Rafique further added that governors and foreign diplomats will visit the train and puppet shows will also be held on it.
Rafique invited all political parties to attend the ceremony. However, when asked whether Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) -- which is planning a 'decisive' long march to capital on August 14 -- would also be invited, the minister skillfully dodged the question.
PTI chairman Imran Khan during his rally in Bahawalpur on July 27 warned the government that if his four demands were not met within a month, there will be a tsunami march on August 14, Independence Day, in Islamabad.
Replying to a question whether the credit for the extensive ceremonies for Independence Day goes to PTI or the government, the minister said. “I do not want to talk about PTI on this occasion.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had constituted a committee to finalise Independence Day celebrations under the leadership of Rafique. The committee also included Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, Inter-Provincial Coordination Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural resources Jam Kamal Khan and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Irfan Siddiqui.
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