Pakistan to take low-key festivity on Independence Day amid worst floods

20:44, August 13, 2010      

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The government and the people in Pakistan have decided to keep the 64th Independence Day celebrations low profile and simple on Saturday to keep the focus on rescue and relief activities amid the country's worst ever floods which so far killed 1,361 and left millions homeless.

Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani announced to celebrate the day in a simple manner during his address to the nation on Aug. 6 regarding historical torrential rains and floods in the country.

Pakistan's Independence Day is observed every year on Aug. 14, the day on which Pakistan got independence from the British rule in 1947.

Pakistani people and government usually celebrate the day with full zeal and zest. Streets, bazaars, government offices, educational institutes, main buildings, houses, public parks, and all other important places are decorated with flowers, lightings, balloons, banners and national flags. But this time all functions and prepared programs have been canceled by the government and civil society

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari called for helping flood victims on Independence Day.

"The best way to celebrate the Independence Day this year is to reach out to the victims of this natural disaster, heal their wounds and help them to help themselves," said Zardari, in his message to be delivered to the nation.

Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Friday canceled all celebration activities and events regarding Aug. 14 and Sept. 6, defense day of Pakistan.

"The money saved from the cancellations of these functions will be spent on the welfare of the flood-affected people," Kayani said in his message.

A part of Pakistani army is busy in waging war against terrorism on its northwestern areas and also a big number of them are taking part in the rescue and relief works in flood-hit areas.

Pakistani army personnels used to organize march-past in the parade ground in front of the president house in capital Islamabad but now it is canceled.

Pakistani air force also canceled its air shows on the Independence Day.

Majority of Pakistani people are supporting the government decision to cancel all programs and ceremonies on the occasion.

"They must announce this, we are facing a historical big calamity, now we should save every single penny for affected persons' welfare," Raja Abbas, an old citizen expressed.

The sale of the products related to the Independence Day celebration has also dropped drastically.

"Only few people are coming to buy flags, badges and decoration items, I know people are sad over the flood destruction but I have lost 90 percent sale this year," Aftab Ahmad, a shopkeeper in Aabpara market Islamabad told Xinhua.

In spite of gloomy atmosphere in the country, some live-hearted people are celebrating the day with full swing. They are of the view that the nation should not be sad in this hard time but stand up to show others how to live and face disasters with some hope.

Bilal Yousuf Khan, a student of the law in the International Islamic University, said the decision to cancel all the functions in not a logical one, people should get together to show unity in this calamity time and to discuss how to fight back.

Ikram Ullah, another student, had same wishes and wanted to upraise the people to do work for affected people. "I want to congratulate the nation on this special occasion with requesting them to come forward and do whatever they can for displaced poor people," said Ikram.

Local media suggested that Prime Minister Gilani possibly will unfurl the national flag in Jinnah Convention Center in Islamabad in a simple ceremony on morning of Aug. 14, before delivering a speech to urge the nation to stand up for the welfare of the flood affected people.

On this public holiday, special prayers would be offered in mosques for the progress, prosperity and safety of the country. Usually celebrations begin with a 31-gun salute in Islamabad and 21-gun salute in all the four provincial capitals but this year the government has canceled these programs.

A change of the guard ceremony at the tomb of Pakistan's founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah will take place in Pakistan's southern coastal city of Karachi.

Some religious and political parties have announced to hold some processions and public gatherings on the day to initiate people to contribute in the flood relief funds and participate physically in the relief activities as volunteers.

Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, has sent messages to the members of its party through mobile phone requesting them to give financial aid for flood-affected displaced people.

According to a government report released Friday, at least 1, 361 persons have been confirmed dead and 1,424 injured so far in Pakistan's worst-ever floods in 80 years.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will arrive in Islamabad on Saturday to assess losses due to the worst floods in Pakistan and oversee flood relief and rescue operations, the state- run PTV reported on Friday.

The United Nations appealed Wednesday for nearly 460 million U. S. dollars in emergency aid for victims of the devastating floods in Pakistan, which have affected more than 15 million people.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:王寒露)

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