Holy & hooligans: Celebrating Independence the Lahori way

LAHORE: Lahore Thursday celebrated its 61st Independence Day with traditional zeal and fervor, marking history with a 21-gun salute followed by special prayers offered for the sovereignty and integrity of the country.

The rising political insecurity coupled with the recent Iqbal Town blast shook Lahore but they braved the terror and marked the 62nd Independence Day with traditional enthusiasm. The usual hustle-bustle, the eve-teasing and the wheeling all also took place but children stole the limelight at all the government as well as private functions held in connection with the Independence Day celebrations.

A sense of horror and impending doom remained foremost in most people, who flocked instead to their prayer mats for mercy than thronging malls and markets.

However, all fears evaporated with the dawning Thursday with people seeing a new ray of hope and nurturing patriotism deep in their hearts venturing out into the open sun.

The day saw the 21-gun salute, followed by prayers, the national anthem and the precious hour of solemnity, the minute silence, all observed but as the day wore on, the masses preferred staying ensconced in the safety of their homes than risking precious limbs and lives.

Those with young children made an effort to visit zoos, but the inherent joy that was to be the mark of the day was conspicuously missing.

Director Lahore Zoo Yousaf Pal told The Post that last year, on August 14, about 55,000 people including children and the youth visited the Lahore Zoo as compared to this year’s 30,000 people.

He said 15 policemen were engaged to secure the premises besides ‘the usual security officials’ plus an ambulance along with a doctor and other paramedical staff present there to avert any untoward incident.

Deputy Director Lahore Wildlife Park told The Post that 2008 recorded a total of 5,000 visitors, a number far less then that of last year estimated to be over 7,000. He said no police officials were sent to the Wildlife Park Lahore for security but added that about 12 security guards were dispatched from the Wildlife and Parks Department Punjab.When contacted, Jallo Park Lahore recorded a drastically low turnout of ‘independent’ visitors.

Source: The Post, 15/8/2008

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