Azadi Train and marches: PML-N govt announces 30-day celebration plan

From puppet shows to competitions, an array of events planned.


Qamar Zaman July 25, 2014

ISLAMABAD:


Celebrations and ceremonies have previously lasted for a day but for the country’s 68th Independence Day, the government on Thursday unveiled a 30-day celebration plan that includes everything from a puppet show to a flypast.


The assortment of ceremonies would start from August 1 with special prayers on Friday and continue till the end of the month, announced Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique at a press conference. During the night of August 13, there would be march-past and flypast in front of the Parliament House in which every political party would be invited.



When asked whether the government would invite PTI to attend ceremonies, Rafiq skilfully repeated, “The government would invite all political parties.”

In addition, when asked about the cost of month-long festivities being organised by the government across the country, the minister said the government was inviting financers to participate in the ceremonies.

He was also asked whether the credit for the Independence Day ceremonies goes to PTI or the government, the minister said, “I do not want to talk about the PTI on this occasion.”

Assortment of ceremonies

August 14 would start with a 21-gun salute and special prayers for the country. A national flag-hoisting ceremony would be held either at Convention Centre or at the Presidency, according to Saad Rafique. In addition, there would be Azadi walks in different cities during the day, while musical bands would be playing national tunes in parks.

In addition, similar ceremonies and events would be organised abroad in Pakistan diplomatic missions.

During the 30 days, the minister said that all parliamentarians would be asked to visit graves of martyrs in their respective areas and lay floral wreaths, offer prayers and meet their families to express solidarity.

There would also be countrywide sports activities, a national mushaira, debating contests, a National Conference on ‘Quaid’s Concept of Pakistan’ and a separate youth conference coordinated by Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal will also be held. There would be competitions of national songs across schools, colleges and universities.

The Azadi Train

The government also announced the launch of Azadi Train, which will highlight the history and culture of the country and would begin its journey on August 11 from Peshawar and cover 4,000 kilometres by reaching Karachi on September 11.

Two compartments will be allocated to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) to highlight the Freedom Movement and sacrifices of the armed forces. One compartment will be allocated to Pakistan Railways that will be used to highlight Pakistan’s history, while another to the Ministry of Information.

The train will consist of six floats representing the culture of all the four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. Governors and foreign diplomats would visit the train.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had constituted a committee led by Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and includes 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, to finalise the Independence Day celebrations.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2014.

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