Nation observes Pakistan Day as Covid, weather cast shadow on celebrations

Published March 23, 2021
A worker gives the final touch to a memorial portrait of country's founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah, on a hill point in Islamabad on March 22. — AFP
A worker gives the final touch to a memorial portrait of country's founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah, on a hill point in Islamabad on March 22. — AFP

The country is celebrating Pakistan Day today (Tuesday) as the nation battles a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pakistan Day commemorates the passing of the Lahore Resolution on March 23, 1940, when the All-India Muslim League demanded a separate nation for the Muslims of the British Indian Empire.

According to Radio Pakistan, the national flag was hoisted atop all major government buildings. The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) also released a special song in connection with the day.

In view of the third wave of the pandemic, all events commemorating the day will be held while ensuring strict compliance of standard operating procedures (SOPs).

An investiture ceremony will also be held at Aiwan-i-Sadar in the afternoon where President Arif Alvi will confer awards and medals to personalities for their contribution in different fields.

However, the ISPR said that the Pakistan Day parade has been postponed due to "inclement weather and rain" over the next two days. According to the military's media affairs wing, the parade will now be held on March 25 (Thursday) "as per programme and timings already specified".

In his message, President Alvi reaffirmed the resolve to make Pakistan an economically stronger and prosperous country. He also urged the nation to remember their Kashmiri brethren, who are being subjected to the worst form of repression and state-sponsored terrorism.

The president said that the world must take notice of blatant human rights violations being committed by India in occupied Kashmir.

He said that the key to durable peace in South Asia was the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

Prime Minister Imran Khan reaffirmed his commitment to making Pakistan a humane, progressive and prosperous state based on rule of law, meritocracy, egalitarianism and compassion.

He said March 23, 1940, was a momentous occasion when the Muslims of the subcontinent decided to establish a separate homeland to free themselves from the shackles of oppression and slavery of the Hindutva mindset.

"While commemorating this day, we need to adhere to the principles of unity, faith and discipline given by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Our vision is to transform Pakistan into a truly democratic welfare state, on the model of Riyasat-i-Madina."

Our great nation has successfully overcome challenges of immense magnitude in the past through unity and resilience, he said. "Today, we need to remain strong to face the pandemic that has engulfed the entire world," adding that "we will succeed in these testing times".

The prime minister also expressed solidarity with the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

"We salute their courage and will continue to support them morally, politically and diplomatically for the realisation of their right to self-determination under the relevant UNSC resolutions," he said.

Later in the day, Imran said Muslims' civilisation had "decayed and declined" when they moved away from the guiding principles of rule of law, meritocracy, compassion and tolerance that were found in the welfare state set up by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in Madina.

"81 years ago today our Quaid gave us the dream for Pakistan as envisioned by the great philosopher and poet Iqbal and based on these Riyasat-i-Madina principles.

"So far we have been unable to achieve our great potential because we lost sight of our Quaid's vision. Today Pakistan is back on track to realise that ideal by bringing the powerful under rule of law & setting up a welfare state with our programmes of Ehsaas, Panagahs and health cards," the premier wrote.

US President Joe Biden also congratulated President Alvi on Pakistan Day, stating that the partnership between the two countries is based on the common goal of regional prosperity.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan Day was an important landmark in the nation's history. "On this day, we commemorate the valiant struggle of our forefathers for a separate homeland that began with the historic Pakistan Resolution of 1940, and culminated in the attainment of freedom seven years later."

On this day, we pay rich tribute to the father of the nation and all leaders, elders, martyrs and heroes who rendered great sacrifices for the realisation of our dream, he said.

"This day provides us an opportunity every year to renew our commitment to making our country a true welfare, progressive and prosperous state."

The foreign minister reiterated that the leadership's vision of "Naya Pakistan" was focused around economic security, adding that the focus has shifted from geo-strategic to geo-economics.

"Rather than partaking in geo-political competition and rivalries, Pakistan is advocating co-existence and win-win cooperation. Pakistan is committed to pursuing policies that promote peace and stability," he said.

He also expressed solidarity with the people of occupied Kashmir in their struggle for self-determination.

Qureshi also urged citizens to practice precautionary measures in light of a third Covid wave.

"Nations have to go through difficult times, but only with unity they sail through. We, Pakistanis, have exhibited tremendous responsibility in fighting the pandemic. As the virus continues to threaten lives, we cannot afford to overlook the importance of preventive measures," he cautioned.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said that Pakistan could only evolve into an egalitarian nation and a role-model for other Muslim countries when it truly followed the ideology on which this country was built.

“A democratic society based on justice, fair play, and equality were the core beliefs on which this great one was founded, ” he said.

Bilawal stated that constitutional supremacy and true democracy, with every institution individual working within its constitutional and mandated role was the only way forward.

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari dedicated Pakistan Day to remembering the Quaid, "all those who gave birth to the idea of Pakistan" and "all those who struggled to make Pakistan a reality".

"Today we remember with gratitude & celebrate all those who made Pakistan possible," she said.

"There are enough days for introspection, to examine why & how we have strayed so far from the Quaid's vision for Pakistan. There are enough days to protest & recriminate. Today is not that day. Today is a day to honour all those who envisioned & fought to make Pakistan a reality," she said.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman urged the nation to learn from the past and "strive towards Jinnah's Pakistan which advocates for peace, inclusion and prosperity".

"When learning stops, progress stops. Let Pakistan heal and recover. Bring the politics of tolerance and unity back," she said.

Additional input from Naveed Siddiqui



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