Pakistan celebrates 71st Independence Day with zeal and fervor

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University of Karachi students celebrate with a large national flag ahead of the upcoming Independence Day in Karachi on August 13, 2018. (RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP)
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University of Karachi students celebrate with a large national flag ahead of the upcoming Independence Day in Karachi on August 13, 2018. (RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP)
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In this file photo taken on August 12, 2018 shows a building decorated with the Pakistani national flag and illuminated for the Pakistan’s Independence day in Lahore. (ARIF ALI/AFP)
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A man rides on a motorbike with a national flag ahead of the country’s Independence Day in Islamabad, Pakistan August 13, 2018. (FAISAL MAHMOOD/REUTERS)
Updated 14 August 2018

Pakistan celebrates 71st Independence Day with zeal and fervor

  • The day was marked by a 31-gun salute in the federal capital with special prayers for peace and progress in the country
  • National flag is hoisted at all important public and private buildings across the country

Pakistan is celebrating its Independence Day today with patriotic zeal and fervor. The day began with special prayers for peace and progress in the country, and a 31-gun salute in the federal capital, Islamabad.
Early in the morning, the national flag was hoisted at all important public and private buildings. The day-long festivities include special seminars, documentaries, music and painting exhibitions.
The nation also paid homage and respect to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, by visiting his mausoleum in Karachi.
To spice up the festivities, vendors have set up stalls across the country to sell the country’s green and white flags, shirts, badges and balloons. The young and elderly alike are buying these things to show their patriotism.
“We are excited to celebrate our independence day and hope the incoming government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf will do something extraordinary to make us a proud nation,” Zulfiqar Ali, 53, told Arab News while buying national flags from a stall in Islamabad.
He said Pakistan’s forefathers sacrificed their lives for a “great mission of independence from British rule” and it is now time to work hard to make it more strong and invincible.
Shazia Qambar, a teacher in an upscale area of the federal capital who is illuminating classrooms with national flags and posters with messages about the importance of independence, said schools try each year to educate their students through fun and games about significance of the independence day.
“This year we are arranging a national songs competition among our students on the school’s premises, besides screening some documentaries about the struggle of our ancestors to get the separate homeland,” she told Arab News.
On Independence Day, all important public and private buildings in Islamabad and all four provincial capitals are also illuminated in different colors and lights.
Pakistan’s Parliament is also being illuminated to mark the country’s 71st year of independence, where 329 newly elected lawmakers took the oath of their office on Monday and vowed to work for the betterment of the country.
“This day reminds us the unforgettable struggle and sacrifices made by our forefathers for next generations to live in freedom,” outgoing Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said after administering the oath to the legislators.
He said that this is a proud day for the Pakistani nation that is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm. “Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah entrusted us with a sacred trust to transform Pakistan into a citadel of peace and a model for all other nations,” he said.
“We should rethink our plans, our actions and their outcomes for forging synergies in the best interest of our country and raising Pakistan to new heights of development,” he added.
Intellectuals and political analysts opine that Pakistan can emerge as a developed nation on the world map only if all the countrymen work together for the development of the downtrodden and poor.
“The key to progress of any country is quality education and rule of law,” Professor Tahir Malik, political analyst and academic, told Arab News.
He said the incoming government should utilize all available resources on human development and promotion of science and technology to turn Pakistan into a knowledge economy.
“On this important day, we should also commemorate the sacrifices of our valiant soldiers and countrymen who laid down their lives to defend the motherland,” he added.
Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, political analyst, said that Pakistan enjoys a unique geographical location in the region and has played a positive role in peace and stability of the world.
“The entire nation is now looking up to the forthcoming democratic government for political and economic prosperity in the country,” he told Arab News, “We should also pledge on this independence day to fight social evils prevailing in the country.”


Airlines halt China flights as coronavirus toll hits 132

Updated 29 January 2020

Airlines halt China flights as coronavirus toll hits 132

  • A growing number of governments have in recent days advised their citizens to avoid non-essential travel to China
  • British Airways was the first major airline to announce a total suspension of flights to and from China

WUHAN, China: Foreign airlines began suspending flights to and from China on Wednesday as global fears mounted over a coronavirus epidemic that has killed 132 people and infected nearly 6,000.
The announcements came hours after countries began airlifts to evacuate foreigners trapped in Wuhan, the quarantined central Chinese city of 11 million people at the epicenter of the health emergency.
A growing number of governments, including the United States, Britain and Germany, have in recent days advised their citizens to avoid non-essential travel to China over concerns about the viral outbreak.
China itself on Tuesday urged its citizens to delay trips abroad to avoid spreading the limit further global contagion, with at least 15 countries having confirmed cases of the disease.
The United Arab Emirates reported the first known case in the Middle East on Wednesday.
British Airways was the first major airline to announce a total suspension of flights to and from China, citing the travel advice of the foreign office.
“We apologize to customers for the inconvenience, but the safety of our customers and crew is always our priority,” BA said in a statement on Wednesday.
Indonesia’s Lion Air Group, Southeast Asia’s biggest carrier by fleet size, then said it would halt services to and from China from Saturday “until further notice.”
In Myanmar, the three airlines that have routes into neighboring China also said those flights would also be suspended from Saturday.
Cathay Pacific also cut flights, citing low demand and the Hong Kong government’s response plan against the virus.
And in one of the most dramatic measures, the tiny Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea announced Wednesday that travelers from Asia would not be allowed in.
However, many other airlines said they were continuing their China services.
China has taken other extraordinary measures to try and stop the disease spreading, including bans on tour groups traveling overseas, suspending schools and extending the Lunar New Year holiday.
Authorities also last week imposed transport bans in and around Wuhan in an unprecedented quarantine effort, leaving more than 50 million people shuttered in their homes.
“This is the first day since the lockdown that I’ve had to go out,” a man in his 50s said on the mostly deserted streets of the industrial city on Wednesday.
“I have no choice because I need to buy food today.”
Thousands of foreigners have been among those trapped in Wuhan, which has become a near ghost-town with car travel banned and residents staying indoors.
Countries have scrambled for days to try and get their citizens out of Wuhan safely, but have faced huge logistical, medical and bureaucratic hurdles.
A US charter flight left Wuhan on Wednesday with about 200 Americans on board, including consulate staff.
Another 200 people were aboard a Japanese flight which landed in Tokyo on Wednesday morning.
Medical professionals were on the plane to carry out checks but officials said they had no legal basis to forcibly quarantine people who have not tested positive for the virus.
They would instead be asked to remain at home and avoid crowds until the results of the tests were known.
Other countries were planning more stringent quarantine measures, with Australia to evacuate its citizens from Wuhan and temporarily house them on an island normally used to detain asylum seekers.
France said it would keep its returnees in a holding facility in Paris for 14 days — the estimated incubation period for the virus.
Meanwhile, the virus continued to spread and kill in China.
The number of confirmed cases across the country climbed to 5,974, while the death toll nationwide jumped 26 to 132.
The scale of the deepening crisis was emphasized with the total number of infections on the Chinese mainland exceeding that of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002-03.
SARS, another respiratory coronavirus, went on to claim nearly 800 lives around the world, with most of those fatalities in mainland China and Hong Kong.
The virus is believed to have originated in a wild-animal market in Wuhan, where it jumped to humans before spreading across the country as the peak travel period for Lunar New Year festivities got under way.
The World Health Organization said Tuesday it would send urgently dispatch international experts to China “to guide global response efforts.”
Until Tuesday, all reported cases overseas had involved people who had been in or around Wuhan.
But Japan and Germany then reported the first confirmed human-to-human transmission of the illness outside China. Vietnam is investigating another case.
Germany now has four confirmed cases, all of them employees at a Bavarian firm recently visited by a Chinese colleague, health officials said.
The US asked China on Tuesday to step up its cooperation with international health authorities over the epidemic.
Washington had offered China assistance three times so far without success, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters.
The virus has rattled global markets and started to dent an already-slowing Chinese economy.
Japanese automaker Toyota said Wednesday it would keep its plants in China closed until at least February 9 in part due to government guidelines.
Apple was closely watching the outbreak in China, home to the firm’s third-biggest consumer market and much of its supply chain, chief executive Tim Cook said.
Global coffee chain Starbucks said it expected a significant earnings hit after closing more than half of its stores across China.