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Gaga: Rest in Peace (b.2002 - d.2010)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pakistan Day

Minar e Pakistan

Shahi Qila (Lahore Fort)

Minar e Pakistan

Allama Mohammad Iqbal's final resting place

Pakistan celebrate the 23rd of March as Pakistan Day, every year, with great zeal and enthusiasm. Officially, a lot of events are arranged by Pakistan embassies around the world at a governmental scale. As a nation and at an individual level things have changed in the past few years for almost all of us.
We grew up celebrating Pakistan Day in our own way. I still remember that all of us siblings and our friends from the neighborhood used to decorate the houses and the street with colorful trimmings, decorations and jhandiyan with a Pakistani flag on them. I also remember that my mother used to advice us to make sure that the decorations with a flag on them do NOT fall on the ground – as it is disrespectful. In the spirit of Pakistan Day, almost all the houses had Pakistan’s flag flying high on the roof tops. In the evening, we used to light candles on the walls of the house and sometimes ‘oil diyas’ as they could last wind better than the candles. We used to save money for Pakistan day from our pocket moneys and used to pray for not having a rain on 22 and 23rd of March.
Today, as I write this, I miss those days, the spirit of bonding with Pakistan and the spirit of being ONE with it. This day reminds me of my brother tremendously - who was a staunch believer in Pakistan and even though he was as a kid himself, hardly 10 years old, he was my role model and my inspiration to celebrate Pakistan Day. His jazba, josh, janoon (enthusiasm)and leadership to organize various events at that tender age was worth seeing. He was the one who chose to stay in Pakistan. He is no more but on every Pakistan Day, I miss his patriotism, his endless love for Pakistan and his efforts to help people improve their life - in his capacity.
I also remember that my mother and grandmother used to sit in front of TV (we just had one channel PTV - until 1991) to listen to Quraish Pur, Laeeq Ahmed, Azhar Lodhie and Obaidullah Baig teaming up with experts - covering Pakistan Day Parade, flag hoisting ceremonies and change of guard ceremony at at the Mazar e Quaid and Mazar e Iqbal. My mother always prepaired special food for the day and fateha was offered for those who lost their lives in million due to the partition. A few times we were lucky to participate in the festivities at the Race Course Ground in Rawalpindi. It was a big occasion not just in my house but in the country in general - at all levels; villages and cities alike.
I was in Pakistan last year; there was not much enthusiasm among kids in my neighborhood as it used to be. The spirit of oneness is dying out - even on occasions like Pakistan Day, the spirit of “US and THEM” is overshadowing almost all the events.
I am positive that things will change and change for good. If we look back, Pakistan has proved itself as an underdog - a country that has a great potential. In Trinidad an old man asked me if it is a Pakistan of Jinnah? I hope we will have a Pakistan of Jinnah and Iqbal!
I wish every Pakistani a fantastic and a memorable Pakistan Day today.
Pakistan Zindabad!

Note: I miss the Millie Naghmay - some were the trademark of the day and were really great and hence, I listened a few, sung by Mehdi Hasan, Ustad Amanat Ali Khan, Nayyara Noor, Mehnaz, Nustrat Fateh Ali, Shehnaz Begum, Alamgir, Shahki, Benjamin Sisters, Roona Laila, Allan Faqeer, Tahseen Javeed and Afshan Ahmed to name the few...!

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