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“Modi Go Home”: India’s soft power credibility in danger

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Prime Minister Narendara Modi’s April 19, 2018 visit to London to attend the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was much anticipated and discussed in the public domain for two reasons. First, the non resident Indians’ (NRIs) bold protest against Modi was unexpected in the Westminster Streets of London and across the Western capitals. And second, Modi’s double stance was exposed the way he has spoken against the Congress Party when he was the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP with regard to the (December 2012, Nirbhaya incident) and now in the ruling side he responds determinedly tied his mouth to the similar cases.

Where has the 56 inch chest gone? Now people are asking why Modi is silent by watching the increasing attacks on women under his leadership. In the London streets, people were gathered raising slogans ‘We stand against Modi’s agenda of hate and greed’ with antagonism holding the banners ‘Modi Go Home.’ A big poster of Modi with a Nazi’s symbol carry the message of ‘Modi not welcome’ was fixed next to the UK Parliament building occupied every tourist walk on the Westminster Bridge crossing River Thames in the city of London. It indicates his deceptive politics are now realized internationally among Indian diasporas. Doesn’t he think this would tarnish India’s image in abroad?

In this article, I am analyzing how artificially created fame to Modi, one time he was falsely adorned by the NRIs in London and now brought shame to all Indians by the message of “Modi Go Home” in the world financial capital London.

Modi’s silence!

At the moment Prime Minister Modi is feeling the heat of his leadership failures one after other. One of the ‘hard-power’ recourses in the international power system is ‘economic power.’ His finance minister demonstrated the fact that Modi’s administration has no clue in managing India’s economy in these four years. The complete failure in articulating diplomacy and foreign policy of this government exposed their inability to keep India’s interest alive in international relations but also fails to hold our neighbors with us.

At this juncture Modi is facing an unexpected assertiveness from the NRI’s to take extraordinary efforts in registering their protest. Modi’s Government strategic restraint in arresting the criminals who raped and their stand behind the culprits exposed the original face domestically and abroad. Watching this brutality, India cried and the people were angered. Moreover, this situation gave a perception to the world to take a conclusion that India is against women under Modi’s leadership. The Congress Party led by Shri Rahul Gandhi organized candle light processions across India along with the public to give pressure on the BJP government to take appropriate action against the perpetrators.

After pressure mounted domestically, Modi got up from a week of silence and stated, “I want to assure the nation that no culprit will be spared. Our daughters will get justice”. Now the CBI arrested the BJP party MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar in connection with Unnao rape incident and link to the victim father’s custodial death. The important thing is the Unnao MLA raped his own constituent.

In the other case in Kathu of Jammu and Kashmir, eight-year-old Asifa was gang raped by a caretaker of a temple, and was finally murdered. You cannot imagine the amount of cruelty the girl experienced. The ugly part of the story was the two BJP ministers Lal Singh and Chandar Prakash Ganga from Jammu and Kashmir state government have participated in a rally conducted in supporting the accused in connection with the Asifa case in Kathu.  In these two incidents, the atrocities against children are not by the common men but by a Uttar Pradesh (UP) BJP MLA and the BJP party’s well wishers respectively. In the last ten years many BJP leaders are accused for their atrocities against women. Listing more than 21various atrocities unleashed by the BJP leaders across India on women ‘Human Rights Activist’ Karthik Navayan says, “Time to change the party name to Balatkari Janata Party?” (karthiknavayanwordpress.com).

‘Go Home Modi’

The central authority of the BJP now could not face the recent embarrassments like scientific corruptions by the BJP leader’s heirs, bank looters are allowed to escape with the support of Modi’s government, social disorder, self-proclaimed God-men and God-women are threatening the society, injustice to women and children. Moreover, one side the people of this country are in anger for being cheated by the false promises of Modi and now the other side women are worrying about their security under this leadership. But Modi says these matters should not be politicized. From his silence over these atrocities we can presume that his mind is more concerned about the Karnataka assembly elections.

In this scenario Modi’s recent visit to London got the attraction of the protestors instead of more plug cards to welcome Modi in the London streets. The streets flooded with the placards of “Go Home Modi” made the prime minster red-faced. The protesters stood strong against Modi due to his mute approach by not acting against his fellow party men involved in these two incidents now gradually loosing the support of India’s expatriates.

Last time when Modi visited London, his speech was attended by a crowd of 60,000 NRIs at Wembley Stadium. The cheerful Modi gave a long sermon which was neither converted to policy nor helped the expatriates in any way. In that visit Modi enjoyed the support from the NRIs and he was greeted from both sides of the London streets. He was admired for his dress, style, and voice and for his speeches. However, his visits abroad are more concentrated on himself in self-proclamation among the Indian expatriates than in articulating India’s interest with the specific countries. This time also Modi was expecting the same from the NRIs of UK. Like Indians domestically, the NRIs across the world also trusted his words blindly. Gradually watching his party regressive actions in India makes the NRIs irritated. At the end of the day they realized that all his words are utter lies, further no worthy in listening anymore because it doesn’t have any life. Now Modi looks trembling to face the Indian diasporas abroad after his recent visit to London was not a surprise.

Modi is very selective in receiving information from outside. He will only take a message that admires him. Well, he can be selective but he should not forget that the message failed to be received by him will react in the public domain. This is because Modi is the prime minister of this country for every Indian, but demonstrates that he is the prime minister for a selective section of people. He is very happy not to be the prime minister of minorities, women, dalits, adivasis and the devastated poor. After the London incident, Modi has added the NRIs also in this list. Hence, he will not lend his ear to these people.

Under Modi’s administration India’s soft-power credibility in danger

Our past prime ministers since Jawaharlal Nehru understand India’s credentials in soft-power. Hence, they used soft-power approach to promote India’s influence in abroad extensively. Prof. Nayar and Paul in their book acknowledge this and stated, “In terms of soft-power indicators, India’s position is significantly high in some areas while it has considerable potential in others.” In the last four years Modi is using ‘soft-power’ as his doctrine for foreign policy articulations.

In all his state visits he proclaimed to the world that we are a nation living together in peace and respecting each other though we are diverse. Although the prime minister is speaking this core values in his abroad visits, his party affiliates and him fail to practice this domestically. Our principle of unity in diversity is under attack from the BJP and RSS. Today in India, under Modi’s leadership our various institutions are facing huge challenges in discharging their duties. Difference of opinions are not accepted or tolerated by this government. It deeply pains us that the outfits of BJP threaten our different cultures, languages and religious practices but the prime minister of this country is demonstrating only a spectator. The world is watching our prime minister’s words and his actions very closely. Our ‘state capacity’ would be questioned soon if the prime minister is keeping a mute approach for these atrocities against women and minorities. Modi should understand that nationalism without normative concern would not help to build an inclusive national leadership. In his four years as a prime minister he always delivers the one-way communication. He never accepts views from the other side. These unfortunate situations would damage our soft-power credibility while we claim for a global leadership role.

Conclusion

In the international arena protest against war, liberalization policies and Western culture are common. This would be the first time an Indian prime minister was greeted abroad with a message of ‘Go Home’ (go to Delhi) for not listening to the cry of Indian women. Few days back Modi faced the same challenge from the people of Tamil Nadu state collectively raised the slogan ‘Modi Go Back’ (go to Delhi) for not abiding the Supreme Court order to constitute Cauvery Management Board. The memes about ‘Modi Go Back’ occupied the social media for a week. This approach has now been hijacked by the Indian diasporas in London to raise their voice against Modi. One Indian tweeted that, “Please don’t send Modi to Delhi. Kindly keep him in London.” Would Modi lend his ear to these voices?

It is not a surprise that artificially created image of brand building will be grounded by naturally raised anger. Once the Indian diasporas in the UK and other parts of the world thought that Modi has the capacity of inclusive leadership would deliver by his words. But the recent incidents force the Indian diasporas to rethink that Modi is a loud mouth piece of the RSS, voice of the one section of the society and just a specialized orator in spreading lies to cheat the voters. The youths of this country now feel betrayed, ashamed and frustrated with the way Modi’s government fails to give importance for Human Rights. Rape and lynching are unleashed under his rule in the name of ‘Gau Rakshak.’ The self-styled right wing activists are protecting the cows but not considering to feed the humans who are actually suffering. Watching this arrogance in our society under Modi’s leadership, a child who participated in a ‘justice for Asifa’ rally came with a poster that read, ‘Cow is safe, Deer is safe…Mr. Prime Minister …why I am not safe?’

It clearly indicates that all Indians understand the stance of Modi and his party’s regressive agenda. Lies after lies and breaking the rule of law they try to build the BJP’s government across the country now perceived by the people that BJP is against the idea of India. The day is not far – soon the Indian voters will convert Modi’s slogan of ‘Mukth Congress’ to ‘Mukth Modi’ in removing him from the prime minister chair.

Antony Clement is a Senior Editor (Asia-Pacific), Modern Diplomacy an online journal. He is a researcher in Indian Foreign Policy. He consults on academic development and he is currently working on two books - “Discover your Talents” and “Diplomacy in Tough Times”. His research centres on India’s diplomacy & foreign policy and extends to domestic politics, economic policy, security issues, and international security matters, including India’s relations with the US, the BRICS nations, the EU and Australia.

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South Asia

Cease-Fire Review: A ray of hope

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Pre-Negotiations are very much crucial to achieve the state of “Negociation Continuelle” (continuous negotiations) the only way due to which conflicting parties go for sustained mode of talks.  On 25th February Director Generals of military operations (DGMO’s) of India and Pakistan contacted with each other to review cease fire agreement, on line of control (LOC), which was held back in 2003.  Both States reaffirmed cease fire agreement and to restart weekly hotline contact at DGMO’s level. The agreement was largely violated by both states for several times and they were accusing each other for violations. But one thing is common that on both sides Kashmiris are suffering, they are raising their children in an environment of fear and severe violence. India and Pakistan are both nuclear capable states of South Asian region and are considered as the custodian of regional peace and stability. And without shadow of a doubt regional peace and security is a collective responsibility of the responsible states. Pakistan and India are the main conflicting parties of South Asian region and Kashmir is the bone of contention between them. Kashmir has been a question of integrity for both States. The Line of control also known as working boundary, divides Indian Kashmir from Pakistani Kashmir. There are several resolutions have been passed by the UN General Assembly to address the Kashmir issue but never implemented. UN wants to solve this issue according to the hopes of Kashmiris. The initiation of bilateral talks in the present outrageous environment is not less than a blessing in disguise and it will be fruitful for all the stakeholders; India, Pakistan and Kashmiris as well. This peaceful move from Pakistan and India is highly appreciated globally because Kashmiri diaspora is present worldwide and they are very much concerned with future of their homeland.

Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi, with his hostile ideology of “Akhand Bharat” assumed office in 2014. His political adventurism based on jingoistic-cum-hawkish policies dragged India State to the verge of staunch illiberalism where identity crisis burst up, which is more lethal than previously existing class crisis. Every community including lower class Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs etc. all are vulnerable to the identity crisis.  On 30th May 2019, he sworn for his second tenure as prime minister of the world’s so called largest democracy. He came with another adventurous mandate and the first demonstration took place when he suspended special status of Kashmir and abrogated articles 370 and 35A. His ideology is regarded as Nazi-inspired ideology because in contemporary scenario only RSS community and other proponents of Hindutva are only considered as “Real Hindustani”. All minorities are suffering in India because their basic living rights are kept aside. The ongoing farmer’s protests shook the foundations of the state, hundreds of thousands of farmers rushed to the Delhi against the anti-famer laws passed by Indian Parliament.

In India Separatist movements are getting pace; minorities are unsatisfied with governing approach of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reuined the secular and democratic face of India. On the other hand, Foreign policy of India is facing severe challenges because PM Narendra Modi’s approach is hostile based on hatred and prejudice. These attributes are fatal for State’s reputation at foreign lands; the recent India-China standoff was just a teaser of BJP’s whole story related to foreign relations. In addition to this, Economic goal of 2025 of India is again became a distant dream just because of belligerent policies of ruling regime.

In contemporary scenario if we look towards India, only Modi-Media nexus will be seen. But in reality the situation is getting worse day by day. The review of cease fire agreement, offered by India, is a positive step towards the regional peace. It is appreciated by both civil and military administrations of both states. When PM Imran Khan assumed office he offered dialogue to his Indian counter-part but Indian Premier refused to go for any sort of talks. India always took a position that to initiate talks first of all, Pakistan has to stop the cross-border terrorism. Both terrorism and talks can never go side by side, this Indian claim is not based on empirical evidences because Pakistan has been facing menace of terrorism  since 2001 and leaving no stone unturned to root out terrorism and safe havens for terrorists.

Currently, India is facing deep internal and external challenges. It is in the interest of India to have peace talks with Pakistan. On the other hand, it is a ripe moment for Pakistan to act decisively because it is the only time when India can review its decision of 5th August 2019.Moreover, it is a ray of hope to establish peace in entire region. This is the time when bi-lateral diplomacy can turn the traditional regional political dynamics. Both states are facing same problems when it comes to poverty, climate change, social security and the list goes on. The realm of these talks should expand and concern parties have to include economic and political regimes in front of each other otherwise momentum of talks will be lost. Regional connectivity is important to have eternal peace, Pakistan and India should review SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) that would provide basis for economic, cultural as well as political connectivity. Major Powers should also play their important role because world cannot afford rivalry between two nuclear states. Now, America is under a democrat President, and they should check every internal and external move of their Strategic and defense ally in Asia-Pacific region. Negotiations between India and Pakistan are in the interest of all other regional and extra-regional actors. Both states should adopt flexible approach while discussing the core issues and should avoid blame game. It will enhance the chances of continuous negotiation which is a pre-requisite for peace and progress.

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What does the Kashmiri want?

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Friday prayers in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. © John Isaac

A group of envoys visited the illegally-occupied Jammu and Kashmir State ostensibly `to take first-hand account of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and government’s efforts to restore normalcy’ (Hindustan Times February 17, 2021). Srinagar welcomed the envoys with a spontaneous shutdown. Prior to the visit, political leaders and human-rights activists were detained. The envoys did not visit Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti or any of the other opposition Kashmiri leaders.

The Hindu dated February 17, 2021 reported ‘The J&K government showcased “deepening democracy” to visiting 24 foreign diplomats, who arrived on a two-day tour of the Union Territory (UT) on Wednesday amid a spontaneous shutdown in Srinagar and alleged detention of recently elected National Conference (NC) district council members in Budgam’.

Post-special-status abolition situation

After abrogation of the special status, India took a number of steps to silence public dissent_diurnal and nocturnal search operations to hound, kidnap or kill the Kashmiri, Internet ex-communication, blatant use of draconian laws against ordinary Kashmiris and their leaders alike. A law was passed to jail parents of stone-pelters., if any. Meanwhile local body elections were held in which the ruling BJP was cut to size. But, India, as reported b y the Hindu also, showcased the elections in international media as a proof of popular participation and contentment of the people with the status quo.

Have the Kashmiri resigned to their fate

The mysterious silence in the Valley during the envoys’ visit speaks volumes on how much the Kashmiri hate India. However, it appears the Kashmiri could have shown their ennui through some mode of peaceful protest.  They could draw lessons from the Occupy the Wall Street or Precariat Movement in the USA.

Occupy has six letters. A group of six persons mostly celebrities in their fields, stand up at some busy street holding letters O,C, C, U, P, and Y. The Kashmiris also could have displayed the letters in word `AZADI’ through a group of five persons.

Apathy

Arnold Toynbee, in his Challenge and Response Theory postulates that if a challenge is too onerous a nation may become apathetic. In similar vein, Ibn-e-Khaldoon suggests that survival of a tribe (nation) depends on cohesion (asabiya, nationalism) of a tribe faced with life-and-death threat around its frontiers.

Amy Chua (Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations) talks about static or dynamic response of a society as shaped by group instincts of various components of a society.

Applying Amy Chua’s framework to Kashmir situation

Amy Chua challenges the view that the conventional mechanism of demokratia (government by the people) is a panacea for all the problems of a society. Thus the recently-held local level elections or even `state assembly’ elections in occupied Kashmir are no panacea for the Kashmiris’ simmering discontentment, their revulsion to yoke of Indian rule. Chua, in her afore-quoted book analysed situation in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Venezuela, besides so-called terror tribes including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Kashmir in Chua’s framework would suggest it is naïve to believe that Kashmiris are resigned to their fate. By analogy, even a thousand years of exploitation by a microscopic Chinese population did not subdue the Vietnamese hatred of the Chinese. As soon as the Americans left Vietnam, the native Vietnamese prowled upon the rich community of Chinese like a pack of wolves. The Americans plunged into decade long futile war with Vietnam without realizing that the Vietnamese were not Chinese stooges.

The indomitable fighting spirit

Indian forces had been using pellet guns to blind the Kashmir. Now, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, they have begun to use even chemical weapons against the Kashmiri.

Let us have a glimpse of the dogra’s reign of terror in Kashmir. To stifle the Kashmiri’s fighting spirit, the dogra punished even Kashmiri children who played with fork-slings (ghulail) and stones (Muhammad Yousaf Saraf, Kashmiris Fight for Freedom, vol. 1, p. 50). Under the dogra rule, the Kashmiri were treated no better than beasts of burden. Instead of donkeys and horses, Kashmiri Muslims were used to transport goods across Gilgit, Leh and Skardu. They carried luggage on their backs across glaciers as high as 17,000 feet. Thousands of them perished along the way each year owing to frost bites, fall from a precipice, and hunger or sickness. The dogra caravans were not humane enough to stop for a while in the snowy passes to look after the injured porters (or ‘human beasts of burden’). Besides performing the forced labour, the Kashmiri had to pay heavy taxes. Whole of their produce was confiscated by the dogra. Little was left for tillers and their children to eat. On every item, the oppressed Kashmiri had to pay multiple taxes. Take shawls. Not only the shawl-makers were taxed, but also the other intermediaries like importers of pashmina (wool) from Ladakh, and storekeepers, whether wholesalers or retailers (ibid. p. 280-81).

The regressive revenue system resulted in a famine during winter of 1877. People began to die of starvation. Instead of releasing grain stocks from the royal go-downs, the maharajah’s constabulary drowned the starved, crying people in the Wullar Lake. Saraf writes: “Whole boat-loads of starving people have been conveyed by the Maharajah’s officials to the Woolar Lake, and there drowned” (ibid. p. 294).

The reign of terror by Indian forces (now estimated at about nine lac regulars and security personnel) who replaced the maharajah’s constabulary on October 27, 1947 is no less gruesome. International human-rights organisations, as well as India’s National Human Rights Commission, have brought into limelight the Kashmiri’s mysterious disappearances, their custodial deaths, and countless rapes of hapless Kashmiri women.

Like the dogra, Indian rulers are mercilessly exploiting Kashmiris’ economic resources. Bulk of locally-generated electricity is being diverted to Indian states. The tourism industry is in shambles. Highly – educated people have no jobs. With no inflow of tourists, the shopkeepers have no business. Unlike the occupied Kashmir, all the socio-economic sectors in Azad Kashmir are progressing by leaps and bounds.

Toynbee’s Challenge and Response Theory suggests that if the challenge is too strong, a nation becomes apathetic. Ibn-e-Khaldoon’s asabiya (spirit of national cohesion) also suggests that a nation’s spirit is likely to be smothered by a challenge which is too heavy. Historical lessons do not apply to the Kashmiri’s struggle. Neither Indians, nor the dogra could gag them. The struggle for freedom has continued unabated.

The lesson from Kashmiris’ struggle for freedom is that repression or palliatives like elections in occupied Kashmir are no good. The Kashmiri wants “freedom”. Their group instinct is `resistance’. But they need to learn from peaceful resistance movements like the Occupy and the Precariat.

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Pakistan Day Celebrations: Civilian Participation

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Pakistan got independence on 14 August 1947 by hectic political struggle from the platform of All India Muslim League (AIML) under the dynamic leadership of Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The presidential address at Allahabad on 29 December 1930 of Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, accelerated and gave more clarity to the movement. He presented the idea and concept that Muslims are a separate nation by emphasizing that a nation is distinguished from the other based on religion, customs, and traditions. At the same time, he strongly disagreed with the Western concept of religion as a private affair. Iqbal explained that Islam is a way of life and thus Muslims are a separate nationand accentuated that unless their rights areprotected, it is impossible to establish peace and tranquility in the sub-continent. The determined political struggle of AIML led to March 23, 1940, Lahore Resolution, at its 27th annual session. The Quaid addressed the session on the first day andstressedthat Hindus and Muslims follow two different religions, philosophies, social customs literature and this made them two distinct nations.

The contents of the resolution, according to Story of Pakistan are“No constitutional plan would be workable or acceptable to the Muslims unless geographical contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may benecessary. That the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign”. It strongly rejected the concept of United India. The word states wassubstituted to one state by a resolution passed at the 1941 Madras session of the AIML which stated, “everyone should clearly understand that we are striving for one independent and sovereign Muslim State.” Moreover, in all speeches, the Quaid used the word “an independent homeland” or “an independent Muslim state”.Pakistan and India became dominions on 14 and 15 August 1947 respectivelyby the Indian Independence Act, 1947, based on the Mountbatten Plan of 3 Junepassed by the parliament of the UK on 18 July. Keeping in view the atrocities being committed by RSS, a militant wing of BJP in Indian Illegally occupied Kashmir (IIoK), and minorities especially Muslims in all over Indianot being allowed to practice religion freely, havevery sturdily substantiated the decision of AIML to fight for a separate state for Muslims. It elucidates their political acumen and far-sightedness. 

Pakistan remained a dominion for about nine years till thefirst constitution as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was adopted on 23 March 1956.Thereafter 23 March was celebrated as “Republic Day” (Yome Jamhooria)every year to commemorate the Lahore resolution and adoption of the constitution.   After the imposition of martial law by Ayub Khan in Oct 1958,it is being celebrated as“Pakistan Day”. Probably the plotter of the coup could not celebrate constitutionalism and democracy on March 23 so ‘Republic Day’ was replaced with ‘Pakistan Day.  The main feature is a three-servicesparade in Islamabad followed bythe display of military weapons and equipment. Floats of the provinces also march past. The flypast by Army and Navy combat aircraft displaying their weapons and equipment.The flypast by PAF fighters and aerobatic.

The celebrations are spread over about two and half hours.Pakistan Day has taken the shape of a Defense Day which was not originally intended. Moreover, Army, Navy, and Air Force organize their respective Defense Days on 6,8, and 7 Septemberevery year. The events of the Pakistan Day parade give an impression especially to civilians that military strength is the only most important component of national power. The remaining such as economic capacity, natural resources, industrial capacity, national cohesion, political structure, and leadership, etc. which are also very vital needs to be given projection. Therefore, parade proceedings may be modified to include more participation of civilian-related events. The latest inventory and indigenously developed weapons and equipment may be displayed to reduce timings. The PAF fighters may only carry out professional flypast andaerobatic performance similar to the aerobatic display team, like “Red Arrow “may be excluded. It is pertinent to mention that most of the countries have prohibited aerobatic display in public places to avoid any untoward incident. It is suggested that floats carrying students who have topped in the boards and universitiesand have done distinct research work in the past year may be added. Similarly,floats carrying civilians who have been awarded Pride of Performance and other awards, businessmen who have been bestowed awards, sportsmen who have brought honors for Pakistan may also be included.  Few industrial floats may also be added with indigenously manufactured machinery and other items.Floats carrying agricultural products and livestock may also be considered.Citations are read as the float passes the dais. Moreover, in Islamabad and the provincial capitals industrial exhibitions may be organized which may include indigenously developed machinery and other items.The civilian participation in Pakistan Day celebrations will certainly add colors and act as a source of pride for them as well as for the nation.

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