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Pakistan marks 74th Independence Day as it battles coronavirus

SAMAA | - Posted: Aug 14, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Aug 14, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
People told to wear masks, maintain social distance

Pakistan is celebrating its 74th Independence Day today as the country continues to battle health, economic and regional challenges.

The national flag hoisting ceremony was held at Aiwan-e-Sadr Friday morning. President Arif Alvi was the chief guest at the event.

The president, while addressing the ceremony, spoke about the many "successes" of the country in the battle against the novel coronavirus. "The world went in lockdown, but our PM decided that we can't impose it because of the poor people in the country." We thought about the plight of the daily wagers and labourers and took this risky step. Later, the world appreciated our effort and lauded our decision to impose a smart lockdown.

Pakistan was the only Muslim country to not close its mosques during lockdown. "We decided that Muslims are quite disciplined and asked them to maintain social distancing in mosques on their own." It was risky, but it worked.

He said that Pakistan will continue to support the people of Kashmir in their struggle for self-autonomy.

The president specifically spoke about empowering women and giving them their inheritance rights. There are many people who continue to deny women their rights. Women have to be given freedom not because the West says so but because Islam gives them this right, he added.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his message, said that Pakistan in the past seven decades has confronted multiple challenges with resilience. He said that the country needed reaffirmation of the pledge to continue pursuing the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

“While we celebrate this Independence Day, our hearts are profoundly grieved by the sufferings of our brethren in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir who are facing military siege since the past one year,” he remarked.          

Pakistan would stand firmly with the Kashmiri brethren in their struggle for their right to self-determination and raise Kashmir's voice at all forums to sensitise the world about the threat to peace and security of the region posed by the supremacist RSS ideology pursued by the BJP government., he added.       

A change of guard ceremony was held at Quaid-e-Azam's mausoleum in Karachi. Pakistan Naval Academy cadets assumed ceremonial guard duty at the mausoleum to mark the Independence Day celebrations. 

73rd or 74th Independence Day?

Every year a classic mathematical problem leaves many people confused about Pakistan's Independence Day.

The answer is a matter of mathematics and semantics or word-meanings. It is the 74th Independence Day and the 73rd year of Pakistan’s existence.

We follow how the State or government calculates it. Consider:
August 14, 1947 was Pakistan’s first Independence Day. That is what the Riyasat-e-Pakistan says. It named the first day of our existence as a country Independence Day. If you include our first independence day and count forward, we have had 74 Independence Days or Youm-e-Azadi.

According to this calculation, in 2020 we have our 74th Independence Day.
But yes, if you counted the number of years of Pakistan’s “age”, it is indeed 73.

In that case, if we were to use the formula people use for their birthdays, our first year of existence wrapped up in 1948 when we became one year old. That would have been our first “birthday” like humans celebrate it.

Guidelines for the Independence Day

The Ministry of National Health Services and Regulations has listed in its recently released guidelines the degrees of risk different activities include:

  • Low: Virtual activities, events and gatherings
  • Medium: Small outdoor and in-person gatherings where people maintain a distance of at least six feet, wear face masks, do not share objects and come from the same local area
  • High: Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow people to remain six feet apart, with attendees coming from outside the local area
  • Highest: Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult to remain six feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area

SOPs for Independence Day events

  • Everyone should wear face masks
  • Hand sanitisers at entry and exit points
  • Thermal scanning of all participants attending the event
  • All surfaces must be frequently cleaned and sanitised with disinfectant
  • Bathrooms should be frequently cleaned and sanitised
  • Shared equipment (mic, speakers) must be disinfected after they are used each time
  • Consider pre-recorded speeches if frequent sanitisation is not possible
  • Ensure proper ventilation and keep the events outdoors
  • Use disposable gloves when handling and disposing of trash. Discard in a marked trash can. Do not disinfect or reuse gloves
  • Limit attendance or seating capacity for social distancing
  • Prevent people from crowding in waiting areas
  • Encourage people to stay at least six feet apart through signs or tape/ chalk marks
  • Flag-hoisting ceremonies should be restricted to government officials in their designated areas. Participation of community members, old people, students and children is not encouraged
  • The rope of the flag should be sanitised
  • Officials hoisting the flag should wear gloves and immediately discard them after hoisting

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