Dubai: Hundreds of Pakistani expats, including children, braved the extreme dust storm on a holiday to witness their country’s flag being raised, kick starting the 76th Independence Day celebrations in Dubai on Sunday morning.
Consul General of Pakistan in Dubai Hassan Afzal Khan raised the flag as expats dressed in flag colours, green and white, sang their national anthem. Several of them shouted “Pakistan Zindabad” (Long live Pakistan) and other slogans hailing their homeland and blew plastic horns and trumpets as part of the celebrations.
A group of men, who came dressed in flag colours, sang patriotic songs in front of the flagpole. Patriotic songs hailing their homeland were also played at the air-conditioned tent decorated with flags and balloons in its colours. Students also presented a national song after the official ceremony.
Hashtaged #75thPayKuchKhaas, the expats joined the diamond jubilee celebrations of the formation of Pakistan on August 14, 1947, on social media as well.
Earlier in Abu Dhabi, Charge d' Affaires Imtiaz Feroz Gondal raised the flag.
A very large number of Pakistani community members along with their families attended the event in Abu Dhabi.
There were special performances by community members. Messages of President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister were read out in the ceremony.
Charge d'Affaires welcomed the guests and congratulated them on the 75th anniversary of the independence of Pakistan. He prayed for Pakistan's peace and prosperity and urged the community members to play their constructive role in the progress and development of Pakistan.
At the Dubai event, Independence Day messages from Pakistan President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif were read out by Gayan Chand, Deputy Consul General and Head of Chancery.
In his speech, the Consul General recollected the contributions of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and other leaders which led to the formation of the country.
He also talked about the ideals which serve as the guiding principles for the nation’s march to peace and progress.
Thanking UAE, Pakistani community
Thanking the UAE leaders and people, he said: “We are in an independent country where we can keep our religious, cultural values, our social values, and we are very grateful to them.”
The Consul General recalled the excellent fraternal relations between Pakistan and the UAE and hoped that Pakistan’s relations with the UAE will continue to grow under the visionary leadership of both countries.
Khan then lauded the contribution of the Pakistani expat community to the economies of the UAE and Pakistan.
“I will also take this opportunity to thank the 1.7 million Pakistanis in the UAE who have done tremendously well for the economy and the development of the UAE.”
Highlighting the importance of expats for the economy of Pakistan, he said: “Their remittances last year were over 6 billion US dollars. And that is one thing through which this community has played a very important role in the development of Pakistan’s economy. So, I urge the Pakistani community sitting over here and through this forum to the entire community that we should continue to not only contribute to the UAE’s economy, but also to Pakistan’s economy through our remittances through legal channels to Pakistan.”
Khan assured the expat community of full support from the Consulate and Embassy said that more community friendly initiatives have been taken to enhance outreach and facilitation for all Pakistanis in Dubai and Northern Emirates.
A photo exhibition consisting of historic photos of Pakistan movement and life of Jinnah was also arranged at the Consulate.
A cake-cutting ceremony was also held to commemorate the Independence Day.
Expats who were present were given a chance to pose for photos with the celebratory cake. All the participants were also treated with authentic Pakistani breakfast the consulate’s premises.
The official ceremony concluded with prayers for progress, prosperity, and solidarity of the country.
'It's a special feeling'
Among the elderly participants was Muhammad Ali Jan, 60, who has been living in Dubai for 41 years.
Speaking to Gulf News, Jan, who works as an assistant pharmacist with Dubai Police said he always makes sure to attend the Independence Day celebrations in the consulate.
“It’s a special feeling coming over here to celebrate. If it is on a working day, I take special permission to attend the morning ceremony here.”
Jan said he always prays for his country to overcome the challenges it faces and to lead in a path of progress.
“I pray for all the Asian countries to progress like the western countries. I have lived most of my life in this great country. My family was separated from Bombay (Mumbai) after the Partition (of British India). I still have some relatives in India. Partitions and politics have only separated the countries, not people. So, I want everyone to do well.”
Sharjah resident Saadia Tariq said she doesn’t fail to attend the national celebrations at the consulate on August 14 and March 23 (Pakistan Day).
“We always look forward to this beautiful gathering. Fortunately, it is a Sunday, and many people came over despite the dust storm. It was good to see the crowd and it was super amazing to watch the celebrations.”
Appreciating the parents who came along with their young children, Tariq, who runs an e-commerce company, said: “This is a chance for telling the young generation about the importance of this day, our country’s history and heritage.”
Farzana Mansoor, a wedding planner, said she has been attending most of the week-long Independence Day celebrations.
She said most of them were organised by the Pakistan Social Centre in Sharjah. “We had several events including sports and poetry events, a special celebration by ladies and a cake cutting ceremony.”
Wishing good luck to the country and its people including the overseas brothers and sisters, she said: “I request all the overseas Pakistanis to play a vital role in the progress of the country because they are the representatives and ambassadors of Pakistan in other countries, and they should follow the rules of this country where we are living.”
Dr Faisel Ikran, president of the Pakistan Association Dubai, said along with the consulate and the embassy, the association has planned a series of events and activities for celebrating the day.
“This evening, we will be having quite a large gathering at the Pakistan association where will have a big celebration.”
Cultural performances, competitions and Pakistani street food will be the highlights.
“Along with that, we also have the Dubai police band joining us in celebrating the Independence Day.”
Dr Ikran said the Pakistani expat community forms a significant segment of the UAE society. “We live in cohesion with other communities. We spread the spirit and the message of tolerance, and a living example is the Pakistan Medical Centre which is a not-for-profit medical centre open to people of all nationalities and it's free for people who can't afford to pay. We played a vital role in the COVID-19 operations here. So, we have not only contributed back to Pakistan, but also contributed to the country where we stay. We will continue playing our role in a very positive way.”