Like almost all the sectors in the country, sports too have a history of witnessing a steep rise of popularity and then taking a deep plunge into isolation, the same was witnessed by the performance of national hockey team in Olympics.
After the Pakistani stick-bearers were given a thorough thrashing by the Aussies, the only thing that brought smiles on many faces was the performance of Indian hockey team, but this trend of seclusion from the limelight is not limited to sports or pubic sector enterprises only — the same mood is visible in the Independence Day celebrations as well.
The situation is not limited to the twin cities only. A telecom company in its latest advertisement has displayed the past achievements of the Pakistani hockey and cricket teams — at the end of the advert, cricketer Wasim Akram comes up and demands the people to raise the national flag so that we can hoist flags of victory.
This year the Pakistani public seems to have detached themselves from Independence Day, and with just two days to August 14, one can hardly find flags on private vehicles, at the roof tops and there is a lacklustre approach towards the celebration.
“I remember that a group of children used to roam around in the localities seeking small donations to decorate the streets,” said a senior government officer in the information ministry, “But now it is strange to see that there is no enthusiasm and I have not seen a single bicycle with a national flag till now.”
It seems that gone are the days when every building, house, shop, even the prominent trees used to have a flag, flying high, and young children pasting stickers of national colours at almost everything they touched.
The lack of fervour is so visible that not even government officers paste badges of Pakistani flags on their chest — out of numerous officers and employees in the federal secretariat.
According to one bureaucrat, the significant level for celebrating the Independence Day by the whole nation was achieved during Gen Zia’s era, and it continued during successive civil governments.
“Though it was not an official policy or forced upon the people but the overall sentiments were pushed by the government through state media and political circles at that time,” said another bureaucrat.
He added that the influx of mobile phones and cable network into the society has reduced the impact of state media, which according to him played a significant role in encouraging nationalism in the minds of public.
“Currently the people are more busy in routine crises including inflation, electricity and political issues,” he said.
However, the inflationary impact is not really a serious issue as a small plastic flag is available at Rs5, whereas the rate of an eight-inch cloth national flag is Rs25, the size usually preferred for installing on motorcycles or cars. The prices range from Rs40 for smaller one to Rs200 for a five feet long one.
Engineer Khurrum Dastgir of PML-N, said that the whole nation was in some state of depression due to the government policies.
“The rulers have not taken the people into confidence in any matter and look at what has been given 18 hours of loadshedding,” he said, “The public is in distress and I assure you we will raise the morale of the nation,” adding his political agenda over the national day issue.
Compared to the previous years, when there used to be at least three stall selling flags and relevant souvenirs at each bus stop on the Muree road – now there are only 4-5 flag sellers from Faizabad to Saddar.
Similar situation is visible in Aabpara, Karachi Company, Sitara market and all other localities and commercial places of federal capital.
Not only the bureaucrats but even the politicians attribute the lack of passion on the political environment.
While, one PPP parliamentarian said that Gen Zia had no roots in the people, therefore he tried to divert the people from real issues to such activities, which are superficial acts in the life of nations.
But she did not wish to be named, fearing the statement could be taken as ‘propagating anti-state views.’
However, Riaz Pirzada, MNA from PML-Q said that the simple reason seems to be that PPP government is not serious in promoting nationalism in the country.
“They prefer that the people of different parts remain aloof of each other’s problems,” Mr Pirzada said.
But Nadeem Afzal, PPP MNA and chairman Public Accounts Committee while, brushing off such allegations said that the situation is complicated.
And another MNA of the ruling party, said that threats of terrorism in past few years have discouraged the general public and even schools, colleges etc. to hold Independence Day functions, which has had its toll on all walks of life.
“This tradition of celebrating the Independence Day will be revived soon as we are completely out of this terror syndrome,” the parliamentarian said, but he did not want to be named as it might annoy the terrorists.