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The Future of Pakistan Celebrates its Past

August 14, 2009

Throughout the country, children – whether they be in schools or madrassahs, at home or in refugee camps – are excited about celebrating Independence Day. In their enthusiasm lies this nation’s cause for optimism.

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Standing in front of his house, Muhammad Tahir was initially hesitant to talk. But when asked about Independence Day, the 11-year-old student in class six at Quetta’s Central Primary School, Joint Road, went inside his house and returned with a small national flag. ‘We’ll hoist this at our house on August 14, and then on the night of Independence Day our whole family will go to the bazaar to see fairy lights on the shops and government buildings.’

(Text Amanullah Kasi. Photograph: Arshad Butt)

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The Jamia Akbaria madrassah in Mianwali is decorated with green buntings and the national flag. Inside, the students are preparing to celebrate Independence Day with ‘a spiritual touch,’ as 12-year-old Hafiz Dilawar puts it. On Friday morning, the students of the madrassah will attend a Quran Khawani after Fajar and pray for the integrity and prosperity of their country. Later in the day, students will participate in a quiz naat khawani competition.

One student, Sahibzada Abdul Malik, enthusiastically divulged that the renowned freedom fighter, Maulana Abdul Sattar Khan Niazi, a member of the Muslim student federation in 1936, started the Pakistan movement in Mianwali along with Khan Muhammad Akbar Khan Khankikhel, from this very madressah. Malik also explained that the madrassah was founded in 1907 by his grandfather, Maulana Muhammad Akbar Ali. Since the Pakistan movement found a home at Jamia Akbaria, there has been a unique sentimental attachment within the madrassah for Independence Day.

Another student, 11-year-old Muhammad Owais, meanwhile, wished that he could return to his village in rural Mianwali to celebrate August 14, where other children his age participate in an annual kabaddi match.

(Text Khursheed Anwar. Photograph: Umer Niazi)

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Saeedullah, a 10-year-old from Abdara, Peshwar, and the son of a night watchman has been looking forward to Independence Day. ‘People celebrate August 14 with flags, badges, firecrackers and burning oil lamps because it is the day we found Pakistan,’ he says, eagerly. In addition to joining in the celebrations, he’s hatching bigger plans for his country. ‘I love Pakistan but I wish people would stop littering up the place. When I grow up, I want to clean it all up. It would also be nice if the bombings stop.’

(Text and photograph: Aurangzaib Khan)

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Ten-year-old Ahmed Khan attends the government primary school on Yat Road in Quetta. Independence Day is his favourite holiday. ‘My parents and class teachers told us that Pakistan is our home land and every year we celebrate our Independence Day on August 14,’ he says. ‘This year we will not hoist the national flag at school because of the change of schedule of the summer vacation. But my father has promised to take me to Askari Park to see the hoisting of flag. We’ll also hoist the Pakistan flag at our house.’

(Text Amanullah Kasi. Photograph: Arshad Butt)

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For students of Malanhore Vena Government School in District Tharparkar, August 14 has a greater significance. Twenty-nine years after Pakistan’s independence, their school was founded in this small village located six kilometres away from Mithi. The village largely comprises members of the Hindu community.

‘Our elders sacrificed their lives so we could live to celebrate this day,’ says 15-year-old Pushpa Bai. ‘To mark our national day, we will perform tableaus and participate in an intra-school declamation contest. The village elders also get together on the evening of August 14 every year and recall the old times – I enjoy listening to that.’

(Text and photograph: Aroosa Masroor)

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Farishata, an 11-year-old from Mamond in Bajaur Agency will be spending her Independence Day in Katcha Garhi camp on the outskirts of Peshawar. But she can’t help but be nostalgic for celebrations in her home village. ‘On August 14, we would fly flags back home. We would go visit our relatives. We are happy because this is the day our country became free. Bajaur is my home and Pakistan is my country,’ she says.

Despite the difficult conditions in the camp, Farishata plans to celebrate Independence Day the best she can. ‘I would want to read out a verse from the Quran to children August 14. I want to be a doctor and serve my people when I grow up.’

(Text and photograph: Aurangzaib Khan)

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The junior section of Alam Model High School in Mianwali has been gearing up for Independence Day celebrations for the past few days. Farwa Batool, a student in class five, has been preparing a speech on the importance of August 14. Reciting from her speech, Farwa says, ‘Pakistan is my beloved country. It is my home and shelter for me. It is my duty to celebrate this day with enthusiasm, along with my friends. Pakistan Zindabad!’

Her friend Adeela Aziz, a 10-year-old studying in class four, is among the students participating in an Independence Day programme. With palpable delight, Adeela confessed that August 14 is also her birthday. ‘I celebrate Independence Day in the morning and my birthday in evening,’ she says. ‘That’s why this day is the most important for me in all respects.’

(Text Khursheed Anwar. Photograph: Umer Niazi)

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Fourteen-year-old Sarwan Kumar, a ninth grade student at Malanhore Vena’s government school, says he especially wants to celebrate the national day this year because Pakistan has survived despite rumours of its disintegration. ‘One of my friends told me that [President] Barack Obama had threatened that Pakistan will not exist on the world map when he comes to power, but we are still here. My friends and I are not just going to decorate our homes, but our entire neighbourhood.’

(Text and photograph: Aroosa Masroor)

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Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, a class six student at the Government High School Mianwali – known as Ram Mohan Roy High School before Partition – has been wearing an Independence Day badge all week in his excitement for August 14.

On Friday, all the schoolchildren in his mohallah will celebrate by participating in a special cricket match. ‘My schoolmates and I have also decorated our mohallah with buntings and flags donated by our elders,’ he says.

(Text Khursheed Anwar. Photograph: Umer Niazi)

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‘We wear green and white clothes at school to celebrate August 14. I know the white in our flag is for minorities,’ says Momina, a sixth-grader at City School in Peshawar’s Hayatabad area. ‘We sing the national anthem at school and draw charts showing people of different ethnicities and cultures. We celebrate because we created Pakistan after a lot of people were martyred. I want Pakistan to be good, no fighting, with a clean environment, good education, good doctors. People should help the poor. When I grow up I want to be a doctor and provide free treatment to the poor.’

(Text and photograph: Aurangzaib Khan)

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Ninra’s favourite part of Independence Day is the colourful fairy lights and decorations on private and government buildings. ‘Every year on August 14, my father and mother take me and my brother and sister through the city to look at the pretty buildings,’ says the class six student at Quetta’s St. Joseph Convent School. Enthusiastically, she adds, ‘Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah is founder of the nation and we are proud of him for establishing this country for Muslims.’

(Text Amanullah Kasi. Photograph: Arshad Butt)

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Gulab Singh, 14, another student in Malanhore Vena, has been preparing for his speech for the past one week. ‘I wrote this entire speech myself. My father only helped me write the last paragraph,’ claims the fifth grade student. ‘After years of oppression by the British, we rose as a nation and founded this state. But having a separate country is not enough, we also need to serve this country and educate our people so Pakistan can prosper. It is not only important to celebrate this day, but also sit and think of ways to take our country forward,’ read his speech.

When asked what would be the one thing he would change in the country if given the power, Singh said: ‘I would like to get rid of all the garbage and provide hygiene education to all.’

(Text and photograph: Aroosa Masroor)

Thanks to DAWN.com

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3 comments

  1. Great article, we are all together as one “Pakistanis” regardless of our religious background!


  2. Pakistan Zindabad !!! Our next generation will be lucky inshallah who will bring the change…but we have to show them the vision…i would say our last generation did nothnig they broke the link but inshallah we will fix that again..


  3. Agreed wih IM and Umar….we have a talented population. Very great and beuatiful people , men women and children!! What a nation we have!! The only thing that brings out the talent and spirt of poeple is a great leader!!



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