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TEXT: The Pakistan Flag is dark green in color, with a white vertical bar, a white crescent in the center, and a five-pointed star. Although the green represents the Muslims and the white is for Non-Muslims, one can also say that the white and green field represents peace and prosperity, the crescent means development, and the star denotes light and knowledge.

On 11 August 1947, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan presented the flag to the Constituent Assembly for its formal approval. In his speech, he observed “. . . the flag is not the flag of any one political party or any one community. The flag is the flag of the Pakistan nation. . . . The flag of every nation is not merely a piece of cloth, but it is what it stands for, and I can say without any fear of contradiction that this flag which I have the honor to present to this House, will stand for freedom, liberty, and equality for those who owe allegiance to this flag of Pakistan."

That, of course, was 1947, and since then a lot of water has passed under the bridge. The flag has taken on a different status. It is also now in strong competition with other flags, not only outside the motherland, but here too. Today, this nation has so many flags that it is practically a Herculean task to keep track of them.

The various political parties, whether they are national, provincial, local, or even tonga, have a flag. The politico-religious parties also have their standards. The ethno-political organizations need a flag to identify themselves. Student organizations proudly display their own brand of flags. It seems that flags now play a prominent role in this nation’s political opera.

What has become of the green and white that was visualized by the Founding Fathers as the symbol of equal privileges, equal opportunity, and equal freedom? What has become of the banner under which hundreds of thousands lost their lives and millions of Muslims migrated to a land they could proudly call their home? What has become of the standard for which the valiant armed forces sacrificed themselves in order to protect the citizens of this country?

The flag is still ever-present and symbolically and ritually raised up and down on the poles outside the official buildings. The flag is very much desired by political aspirants who want it on their cars, so the world and the traffic cop can distinguish between an ordinary citizen and an unelected advisor to the Chief Minister. The flag is still on the table where the billions of dollars worth of MOUs are signed and where one always see the signatories clumsily get up in unison and exchange the documents.

However, it seems that the people are not satisfied with just one flag. What they want is a two-flag country. Take the example of the “rulers”. In Pakistan, those elected or selected become undisputed title-deed holders, or rulers, of the country until they are unceremoniously chucked out, legally or through extra-constitutional means. The national flag and the party flag are in equal importance on the car, in the office, in the garden of official or non-official residences of the party leadership from the top to the lower in the hierarchy. The party jalsas are full of these party flags. Of course, there, the country’s flag may be spotted if one looks real hard all around.

There have been many episodes in this nation’s history where the other flags were more in motion. At the World Cup in Australia, many moons ago, where the Pakistan team emerged as the World Champions, the viewers witnessed a harrowing spectacle. Here too, tri-colors belonging to a Pakistani political party were fluttering side by side with the Piyara Parcham of Pakistan. Unfortunately, both the timing and the place for this kind of exhibition were way, way out of line.

The patriotic people of Pakistan have become used to the disrespect shown to the flag by many in the audience who frequent the cinemas and are impatient to get on with the show, rather than standing in attention for a couple of minutes.

The younger generation craves to hold and to wave the flag on important national days. One can see the gleam in their eyes when they do that. They truly show their love for the flag, even though they may not yet know what the Muslims of the sub-continent went through so that today they could proudly raise their very own national flag. Alas, the day they come into their late teens or adult life, they may switch their allegiance to another flag.

What this country thus needs is to introduce the love for the flag in the minds of the populace. There is an imperative need to get rid of the flags of all parties, and have only one flag under which they would all stand and to which they will pledge their loyalty and allegiance. The time has arrived to donate all these flags to the rag boys who clean the trucks and the buses. The moment has arrived to ban,once and for all, any other flag.

The citizens of Pakistan should and must salute, respect and fight for the green and white that is recognized all over the globe as the flag of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Has anyone ever seen any other flag other than the Old Glory at American political programs and rallies whether they are Democratic, Republican, or Green Party? Has anyone ever seen any flag except the Stars and Stripes at US sports events? No sir, that country has become the World Power because the citizens in the land of Uncle Sam undauntedly prove their loyalty by standing up, facing the flag, right hand over the heart, and in a strong voice filled with patriotic fervor, recite: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." This is one super way to make a great country and a great people! When will the day come when we would all say in unison – Pakistan First!

(The writer is Former President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Twitter: MajydAziz)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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