Saturday, 20 March 2010

Pakistan Day special: Creative celebrations

By Saira Owais Adil
Saturday, 20 Mar, 2010 DAWN Young World

Monotonous, routine celebrations are held all over the country to mark the Pakistan Resolution Day on March 23. The schools, media and government organisations all follow strictly unchanged programmes. School children are dressed up in neat uniforms, polished shoes and appear tidy to perform on the same national songs as they have been doing for years.
March 23 is actually the day when the meaning of independence for the Muslims of the Subcontinent was clearly laid out to the world. Now after 70 years of the event, we, the young generation, today need our elders’ help in comprehending the ‘national’ thought that led to the whole process of independence! Children can only be expected to be ‘patriotic’ when they understand the meaning of ‘patriotism’.

Let’s make a different start this time and instead of performing at the school half-heartedly or bunking the functions altogether, try to give your school authorities some exciting suggestions. Ask your school head or teacher to organise different activities with the objective of creating a better understanding of the term “independence”.
Do something creative. Paint your own Pakistan – the way you think a perfect Pakistan would look like. Draw and paint what you like about your country and how you would like things to be. If you are better at words than the brush, write how you want things to be, portraying a ‘better Pakistan’ in your own way!
How about making a huge map of Pakistan for your class or to be displayed anywhere else in the school, and decorate it with smiles, colours and gestures of love – all that we are losing fast with each passing day.

And just mounting the national flag and placing the small flags on strings round the classroom is not enough. A flag drawing competition would be more exciting and full of fun. Rather than just painting and colouring the flag on a paper, you can try making it with different materials. Of course you can’t change its colour or design, just use various textures and materials, coloured green and white, to lend a beautiful touch to our national flag.

Instead of merely reciting the toughest of the national songs, request your teacher to make you understand what the poet is actually trying to say. In a casual set up, not that of the typical classroom teaching style, lectures given to make students become aware of the meaning of the different national songs, some information about the poet and the occasion when it was first written would go a long way in making everyone realise the significance of the words and remember it for a long time to come. By becoming aware of the true meaning of the words that are being sung, it will bring out feelings of national pride and patriotism and make any performance more powerful.

A competition of short poems and national songs can also be held where participants would have to write national songs or poems. This can also be done as a class exercise where everyone just pens down what is in their hearts about their beloved country.

Make posters, badges and cards in which you present your own idea of what being a citizen of a free nation means to you and share it with your friends and teachers. If you are going out somewhere with your friends or family to on this national holiday, order a combination of pistachio and vanilla flavours in ice cream. Now that’s a pretty patriotic combination!
This is our country and we all feel proud of it. So why not fuel up your passion and come up with imaginative ways to celebrate this day and pledge to do what we can to make it a better place to live.

Citizens Speak: Salute the Men and Women at Arms.

Some inspiring images found floating around facebook courtesy Mindworks Media and ISPR

Citizens Speak: Three Heroines of Pakistan

By Imran H Khan

Pakistan has been blessed with many amazing women whose stories have been largely untold. Shahla Haeri wrote about some of them involved in the social sphere in her book “No Shame for the Sun“. OPEN’s chapters have also held conferences and forums highlighting the role of Pakistani American women in the US. In the recent years three Pakistani women have defied all odds and achieved remarkable success in achieving some of the highest goals typically associated with men. These achievements are specially significant taking into account their economic and geographic origins.

Maria Toor: Pakistani Woman Squash champion from South Waziristan

Maria is the Pakistan Woman Squash champion and Seventy Second in the World. What is remarkable is that she comes from WANA South Waziristan, the home of Pakistani Taleban. Her parents are from a poor background and she did not even pick up a squash racket till the age of twelve. Her meteoric rise in squash is amazing as she has achieved this with little to no resources. In listening to her in the attached video you can get a sense of her passion for the game and the hurdles she had to overcome in order to get there. The other thing that struck me was her confidence in achieving pretty much what she put her mind to, including appearing in a Hollywood movie. With little to no education she has still found the time to learn English and appears comfortable in front of the camera.

Saira Amin: First female Sword of Honor Winner and Fighter Pilot from Peshawer. Saira not only graduated from one of the most rigorous air force academies in 2006, but also won the most coveted Sword of Honor. To achieve this you need to be the most outstanding cadet in all of the three areas of flying, academics and general military training. She belonged to only the second group of females to be inducted into the PAF. She had to outclass all her male colleagues in physically grueling training that included para jumping.

She has established that in a extremely male dominated domain of jet fighter pilots of one of the most demanding of air forces, a female can not only participate but even dominate.

The video below shows female fighter pilots converting into flying fighters of PAF.

Naseem Akhter: Fastest Woman in South Asia from Korangi.

Naseem Akhter caught the fancy of all of Pakistan when she beat Pramila Priyadarshan, the Sri Lankan favorite to win the gold medal in South Asian games in 2010. She hails from a poor family from Korangi area of Karachi. Her dedication to achieve her goal was captured in her statement that she gave after the event.

“I had forgotten the world for six months and trained really very, very hard under my coach Maqsood Ahmed to achieve this. It is a great moment for me to have brought glory to the country in my event.”

To grasp the real significance of her story you have to watch the video below and see and hear the pride of her family.

What really struck me in the photo below is that she was wearing loose clothes and yet was only a second and half behind the fastest woman on the planet, Florence Griffith-Joyner. I can only wonder that with some training and more streamlined clothes what she can possibly achieve.

The theme that runs common in all the three stories is that none of these ladies let any excuse come between them and their goals. They managed the challenges with a supportive family structure. They exhibit all the same qualities that are needed to be a successful entrepreneur. They had to raise money, market their talents, fight the naysayers and excel in what they did with single minded focus.

To all these women, “Afreen” .