UAE's Pakistanis aim to help recreate history

Expatriates travel to Lahore to take part in 'fulfilment' conference designed to re-energise 1940 ideals that are celebrated on Pakistan Day.

DUBAI. 18th March 2010.  Mobisher Rabbani in Dubai yesterday (thursday) with his signed poster which he is taking to Pakistan in support of the Takmeel E Pakistan resolution.  Stephen Lock   /  The National

DUBAI // Danish Qayyum left Dubai for Lahore late last week with his three-month-old son Zaareb. "I don't want my son to miss this turning point in history," said the 27-year-old native of Karachi.

"This could fix everything - We will recreate the same atmosphere that was there 70 years ago." Today is Pakistan National Day, a holiday in the south Asian country that marks the Lahore Resolution a political statement adopted by the Muslim League in 1940 demanding a separate state. But the spirit that led to the creation of a separate and safe country for Muslims needs to be rediscovered, some local Pakistanis said.

Mr Qayyum is one of at least 25 Pakistani nationals from Dubai who have taken time from work and school to participate in Takmeel e Pakistan, a 100,000-strong conference that aims to re-energise the political ideals that were enshrined seven decades ago. The intent of the group is to inspire change in the Pakistani government and mobilise the youth of the country. "We need to start believing in Pakistan again," Mr Qayyam said. "There are problems. but the resolve of the nation is amazing. Pakistan will not collapse."

Takmeel e Pakistan, which translates as Fulfilment of Pakistan, is a youth-led movement at which Pakistanis from across the world gather at the Minar E Pakistan, a minaret in Lahore's Iqbal Park. There, delegates will craft a new resolution designed to correct Pakistan's current troubles. The resolution will be presented to the government. Amina Javaid, 25, an auditor who works in Dubai, is back in her home city of Lahore for a week.

"We need a platform like this to be united and spread the message that we are a peaceful youth," she said. "I want to be part of this history and feel the spirit of patriotism. "When you are out of your country you always have a guilty conscience; you feel bad in the sense that your parents are suffering over there." Those who could not afford the time and expense to go to Lahore can make themselves heard, too.

Mobisher Rabbani, a political scientist and humanitarian campaigner, spent weeks visiting people across the UAE and asking them to sign banners to take to Lahore. By the end of last week, he had thousands of signatures. "This is the first gathering of its kind," he said. "I will present these banners at the conference and they will be shown to the government." People have forgotten the ideology behind Pakistan, said Mr Rabbani, and Takmeel e Pakistan is the re-enactment of the original signing.

"Things are completely different now. Pakistan was supposed to be a social state that supported minorities. We were supposed to be secure, have plenty of food and a safe place to live. That hasn't happened." Sameer Ahmed, 23, a student at the American University of Sharjah, was not able to go to Pakistan. "I can't leave so I signed instead," said the undergraduate, originally from Karachi. He runs the Pakistan Society at the college. "This is something for our own country."

Several activities are being organised in the UAE to celebrate National Day. The Pakistani embassy in Abu Dhabi and the consulate in Dubai were scheduled to hold flag-hoisting ceremonies this morning. The ambassador, Khursheed Ahmed Junejo, will host an invitation-only dinner this evening at the capital's Beach Rotana hotel. The consul general, Amjad Ali Sher, plans to hold a similar event on Thursday night in Dubai's Le Meridien hotel near the airport.

"It is particularly a special day for us in the UAE with which Pakistan enjoys extremely cordial and brotherly ties," Mr Junejo said. "Various global challenges confront Pakistan and the Muslim Ummah that demand better understanding and co-operation," Mr Sher said. "This is predominantly a unique day for us to celebrate in the UAE, our very close and brotherly Islamic state." It is also expected that tens of thousands of Pakistanis in the UAE and across the world will wear green today to show national solidarity as part of the "Dhaani" movement.

The campaign was launched in November by Anthony Permal, a Pakistani based in Dubai, and calls on friends of Pakistan to wear green on certain days during its current "difficult" period. By yesterday afternoon, 33,223 Dhaani fans had registered on Facebook, up from 17,000 four months ago. "Wearing green on the same day is a unifying event, despite everything that has happened in the past month in Pakistan," Mr Permal said. "So many young people are gearing up to this day. It's a way of saying that the new generation of Pakistanis will save the nation."