From joy & pride to haunting security concerns
KABUL (Pajhwok): An elderly man says Independence Day -- an occasion of joy and happiness for Afghans-- represented hope in the past, but now people fear terrorist attacks at the landmark event.
This is the story of Roohullah Hasrat, 70, a resident of Kabul who has been witness to peaceful celebration of Independence Day four decades ago. The occasion, then full of glory-- would be celebrated for 10 days from August 18 to 30.
Chaman-i-Hazoori, a spacious park in Kabul that has now turned into a garbage site, would draw thousands of people, including government officials, to mark the important day.
Apparently downcast and pessimistic, the man remarks: “Suicide attacks and bombings were then unknown. The masses would mark Independence Day like the Eid and Nawroz festivals. But that enthusiasm has evaporated.
“Now Independence Day no longer looks like a festive moment. The government arranges a small official function inside a congested hall and to mark what it calls Independence Day celebration,” he comments.
In the past, he says: “People even from northern provinces would stream to Kabul on foot to mark Independence Day. In the good old days, there were fewer cars and the enthusiastic Afghans would walk for a week or two to reach the capital.”
People from other provinces would sleep in Chaman-i-Hazoori before and after celebrating Independence Day. They would set up bonfires and throw splendid parties, Hasrat adds.
About makeshift arrangement enabling artists and artisans to display their masterpieces, he says there were no hotels at that time. Artists would erect tents at ministries to display their works, he recalls.
He added Ahmad Zahir, Ustad Sarahang, Ustad Rahim Bakhsh, Ustad Mahosh, Zahir Howaida, Ustad Sarban and Ustad Nashnas were the popular music artists of the time who were holding music and dance parties entire night during the celebration of the independence.
However, Hasrat has not witnessed any glad momenton this historic day in recent decades.“Independence celebration in the past was a hope, but now people feel insecure and threatened.”
He blamed the government for failing to ensure security in past years, putting a damper on joyous events including important national days. He hopes happiness would come back and their fear would go away.
Many fathers, mothers, brothers, sons, sisters and other close kin have been separated by decades of war, which must come to a halt. Peace will usher in a new era of renewal and hope for the long-suffering nation, he concludes.
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