x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Musharraf marks Pakistan's Independence Day

Former leader hosts Independence Day event in Dubai.

Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistan president, addressed 2,500 guests at the Dubai World Trade Centre for celebrations marking the country's independence.
Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistan president, addressed 2,500 guests at the Dubai World Trade Centre for celebrations marking the country's independence. "Today isn't about me and it isn't about my political party," he said. "This is Pakistan's day."

DUBAI // The former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, hosted a celebration marking the country's Independence Day in Dubai yesterday.

The event was one of many taking place across the Emirates as expatriates celebrated in low-key fashion due to Ramadan.

More than 2,500 guests attended the function in the Dubai World Trade Centre where they listened to a short speech.

"Today isn't about me and it isn't about my political party, this is Pakistan's day," said Mr Musharraf. "Today is a happy day. Today all Pakistanis should remember Quaid-e-Azam [Pakistan's founder Muhammed Ali Jinnah] and August 14, 1947."

He said he remembered the birth of the nation vividly and recalled a train journey from his place of birth in the Indian city of Delhi to Karachi a few days before partition.

And upon his arrival he saw thousands of people at the station. "Everybody was crying and on that day I thought that was what freedom meant."

Quoting a speech by Mr Jinnah he said the first duties of a government were to maintain law and order, tackle corruption and black marketeers, improve religious tolerance and end nepotism and poverty. He said none of these were being carried out by Pakistan's current leadership.

"There are religious and ethnic difficulties but there should not be," he said. "It should not matter if you are from Baluchistan, Sindh or Punjab. We are all Pakistanis," he added.

"There should be no religious intolerance inside Pakistan and it shouldn't matter if you are Sikh, Muslim, Christian or Hindu."

He added that he planned to return to Pakistan on March 23.

Dozens of Pakistani expatriates gathered at the country's embassy in Abu Dhabi and consulate in Dubai to view flag-raising ceremonies yesterday morning.

Other members 250

of the community decided to celebrate a day earlier. The Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) held a celebratory iftar on Saturday.

Rizwan Fancy, a community welfare officer at PAD, said: "We held a small iftar event on Saturday to celebrate Independence Day. It was held in the PAD centre and we had about 150 people take part.

"There was a speech and lecture about what Independence Day means to Pakistanis and how important it is to work to help improve the situation there."

He said the celebrations were less exuberant compared with previous years due to the holy month.

"Prayers were said and after we had opened our fasts we brought out a cake to celebrate Pakistan Day.

"We are all expatriates in this country so our home is Pakistan and we want to work so it is a good and stable country," Mr Fancy added.

nhanif@thenational.ae