Milestones with a round figure - say, the 70th - have a nice ring about it. While seven decades in the life of a nation do not quite make it old, it is the journey that counts. By all counts, it has been an eventful one, with an ever young spirit.
The joie de vivre was evident as Pakistanis from all walks of life converged at the embassy in Doha to celebrate their country’s .
Braving sweltering heat, families turned out in large numbers, thematically drawing from the green visage of the national flag in their attire. Some cars were also bedecked in the colour of the moment.
Ambassador Shahzad Ahmed hoisting the national flag. Photos by Noushad Thekkayil
The ambience had a veneer of entertainment to it with pop patriotism in full swing - foot-tapping national songs blaring through the music system doing its bit to lift the spirit on a humid day.
A smartly turned out contingent of Pakistan’s armed forces made an impressive entry before a personnel presented the crescent-and-star green and white national flag.
Shahzad Ahmed, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Qatar, hoisted the national flag as the audience sang the national anthem in unison.
Sadia Gohar Khanum, Head of Chancery, then took the podium to read out messages from President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
“Today, let us make a firm commitment that we will adhere to our national objectives and goals. This will pave the way for better governance. It will lead to maturity of democratic traditions and will also strengthen the process of national progress,” the president was quoted as saying.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, on the other hand, struck a poignant note about the value of freedom.
“Today, we are treading the path of prosperity and progress in a peaceful and dignified country because of the unparalleled sacrifices rendered by our ancestors,” he recalled.
“Pakistan desires positive and constructive relations with all the countries of the world, especially with its neighbours on the basis of sovereign equality,” the prime minister drove home.
Students rendering a national song
Ambassador Shahzad Ahmed while congratulating the gathering on the Independence Day exhorted his compatriots to work single-mindedly for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan. “We must uphold the values and principles that make ours a great nation,” he said, underpinning Father of The Nation Quaid-e-Azam Mohamed Ali Jinnah’s motto of ‘Unity, Faith, Discipline’.
The ambassador was also sanguine about the state of relations with Qatar, saying the two brotherly Islamic countries were moving ahead with great vigour and vitality in the diplomatic and economic spheres.
Schoolchildren made their presence felt with speeches and popular national songs like Dil Dil Pakistan (Heart, Heart Pakistan) with some zest. Syed Intisar Hussain, a Doha-based broadcast engineer, regaled the audience with the rendition of Ye Watan Tumhara Hai (This Land is Yours) and Ae Watan Pyaare Watan (Oh Land, the Beloved Land).
Children decked in the Pakistan colours.
Malik Sarfraz, a cheerleader known for his vocal support for all things Pakistani around Doha, was a familiar presence and took to brightening the mood in the embassy hall with full throated slogans.
Murad Baseer, who has joined the embassy as Deputy Head of Mission, coming from Bern, Switzerland, was impressed with the large turnout and the energy and buzz at the celebration, saying he looked forward to a fruitful tenure in Doha.
A delectable cake, made after the colours and contours of the national flag, was cut by the ambassador and officers of the mission.
As ever, the celebration would have been amiss without the traditional Lahori breakfast made of halwa puri, chana and tea - hot from the oven as it were - making the large gathering feel completely at home in Doha.
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