Pakistan celebrates a sombre March 23 amid social distancing

Published March 23, 2020
A traffic police officer stands with a barrier on a deserted road of a business district during a partial lockdown after Pakistan shut all markets, public places and discouraged large gatherings amid an outbreak of coronavirus disease in Karachi on March 23. — Reuters
A traffic police officer stands with a barrier on a deserted road of a business district during a partial lockdown after Pakistan shut all markets, public places and discouraged large gatherings amid an outbreak of coronavirus disease in Karachi on March 23. — Reuters

Pakistan Day celebrations have been curtailed in light of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, with the country's top leadership pledging to fight the pandemic that has claimed more than 14,000 lives across the world.

On Monday morning, Pakistan's death toll from the virus stood at six, while the total number of cases at 803.

All public gatherings, including the much-anticipated military parade, were postponed as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of the virus.

President Arif Alvi

In his message, President Arif Alvi reiterated Quaid-i-Azam's slogan of 'Unity, Faith, and Discipline', stating that "there is no better message" for this year's Pakistan Day.

Quoting the nation's founding father, Alvi said: "There is no better message this president can think of, for March 23, Pakistan Day 2020, than what was said by the founder of Pakistan Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah in 1947. My dear Pakistanis, his every word is for YOU and applies to the corona crisis in Pakistan today."

In a separate statement carried by Radio Pakistan, the president maintained that it is the responsibility of all segments of society — including the ulema, the media and political leaders — to play their role in education the people about precautionary measures.

"Doctors and health workers are the first line of defense in this crisis, and the nation salutes them for their unrelenting and selfless endeavors," he added.

Prime Minister Imran Khan

Prime Minister Imran Khan urged people to stay calm in the face of the coronavirus outbreak and to take precautionary measures.

According to Radio Pakistan, he said: "The nation has the capability to face any ordeal [...] we will emerge victorious."

FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi

In a statement, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi stated that Pakistan Day provides the country "an opportunity to reflect on our journey as a nation state and contemplate about the future".

The coronavirus pandemic is testing the resolve and resilience of nations across the globe, the foreign minister said.

"To be able to successfully defeat this common enemy, we need to marshal the same innate virtues. We need to acknowledge and appreciate the tremendous sacrifices and contributions that our health care personnel and others [...] our soldiers in the forefront of this war, are making to keep us all safe," he said.

Qureshi added that the nation must also not forget about our Kashmiris brothers and sisters in occupied Kashmir.

"With an iron will, and with all the political, diplomatic and moral force at its command, Pakistan will continue to stand by its Kashmiri brethren, till the dawn of self-determination."

Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif

Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, who recently returned to the country after spending approximately four months in London with his brother Mian Nawaz Sharif, expressed that the nation must emerge as one in order to to defeat the coronavirus.

In a tweet, the PML-N president said: "As the nation celebrates Pakistan Day today and pays its homage to the founding fathers, there could be no greater relevance of the message of the Day than it is today. We must emerge as one nation 2 defeat COVID-19. High time we revived the spirit that marked our freedom struggle!"

Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah urged citizens to show national unity by staying at home and staying safe, as the province observes a lockdown for the next 15 days.

"This Pakistan Day, let’s show our national unity by staying apart. Stay home and stay safe. And your nation will thank you for it. Happy Pakistan Day to all Pakistanis. May Allah make this time easier on us all. Pakistan Zindabad!"

SAPM Firdous Ashiq Awan

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said the spirit and enthusiasm exhibited on March 23 all those years ago culminated in the formation of Pakistan.

In a tweet, she said that today, using the same spirit, we have to promote harmony and solidarity among the people.

"In order to deal with the challenge that corona poses, there cannot be divisions. People's safety, security and their health is our collective priority. Joint efforts need to be made to control the outbreak."

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar urged the people of Pakistan to demonstrate unity by self-quarantining and staying at home.

"On this Pakistan Resolution Day, let us resolve to show our unity in a unique way [... ] Let us stay home and protect ourselves, our loved ones and the nation!!"

The chief minister added that showing unity in the wake of the global pandemic was essential for combating the virus.

Federal minister Asad Umar

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said that fighting and overcoming difficulties has been a part of the people's lives ever since Muslims had announced their plans for a separate nation on this day 80 years ago.

We will win the fight against this disease, just as we emerged successful all those years ago, he said.

Former German ambassador Martin Kobler

Wishing the people, Former German ambassador to Pakistan Martin Kobler stated that he was thinking of the nation during these difficult times.

Taking to Twitter, he said: "To all my #Pakistani followers: have a happy and good #PakistanDay2020, this year under #Coronavid19 #SocialDistancing conditions. I think of you in these difficult times and wish it will bring also #Pakistan closer to her neighbours fighting the common threat.


Additional input from Naveed Siddiqui

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