The blog is also published at Express Tribune and is in much better shape than original. Kudos to the ET team for editing.
When the idea to break the Guinness Book of World Record for Most People Singing National Anthem was presented to me first, I felt intrigued. With all the factors of division creating havoc in the society, it presented an excellent way to unite the Pakistanis once more and for that I joined Abid Beli and Waqas Pai to achieve this goal.
The path was difficult because the record was held by India with more than 100,000 participants, however there was an error. The Indian record mentioned “Vande Mataram” which was labeled as National Anthem which was not true since their anthem is “Jana Gana Mana”. They sang their national song which was accepted as their national anthem. Abid beli had notified the authorities at GBWR about the error and requested them for correction.
We still prepared with a target of nearly 110,000 and faced serious resistance. We had location problems, security problems, organizational problems, funding problems and some other problems better left unspoken. For two months the team did nothing except social media marketing while Abid Beli and Waqas Pai worked hard to get corporate, legal and every sort of support to make it happen.
We promoted the event through media and went on to shows when invited. I accompanied the duo to Maira Khan’s show and we sang National Anthem live. Near the end of July as hopes continued to plunge, the first breath of fresh air came in the form of GBWR’s response … the record had been corrected.
The record went back to Philippians that had just over 5000 participants and it was much easier to face. With new zeal the preparations were made until we had everything ready on 13th of August. I accompanied Abid Beli and Waqas Pai to DHA Zamzama Club, Khadda market in the afternoon to oversee the venue preparation and uploaded the pictures on Facebook to encourage everyone to come despite worsening situation of Karachi.
At the time of event everything went well except the weather. The sudden wind and rain destroyed the very valuable and expensive sound system, stage and backdrop. It severely discouraged people coming from far away due to low visibility, slippery roads, heavy rainfall and lack of surety for the return trip. The people at the venue, despite all odds continued to hope and showed their energy.
Everyone sang national songs, danced and remained hopeful to break the world record. People used text messages, Facebook and Twitter to convince others to join and it wasn’t until two speakers were salvaged, placed in dry area and two microphones were given to organizers that made the crowd energetic. Everyone danced on the national songs, sang along and clapped and shouted enthusiastically when known icons like Faisal Qureshi, Mani, Marvi Memom and Abid beli spoke to the crowds.
The first singing took place at 12 to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day and the second singing an hour later to break the world record when required numbers were achieved. Even when power went out when we were moments away to start National Anthem to break the record, no one deterred and at Faisal Qureshi’s urging the crowd took out their cell phones and created the most magical atmosphere ever to achieve the goal.
I have uploaded some videos of the event on my Youtube account and formed a playlist for easy viewing.
Was it all worth it? Definitely. The whole experience is not so different than our common life. Unexpected changes, power shortages, destruction, despair, consistent resistance etc were common occurrences from start till the end of the event. But this event also showed the strengths of our nation that include the strong desire of our youth to unite for national cause, to remain hopeful even when hope seems gone, to join hands to make possible what seems impossible and to face the future with bigger dreams and a bigger will to achieve them.
I have been asked a question many times but refrained from answer. What will Pakistan achieve by breaking record of singing national anthem? It makes no sense.
To all of them I say this now. It is not the record itself but the purpose of it that counts. Uniting for the sake of Pakistan, to sing the National Anthem none of us bother to remember after completing school, in impossible conditions where we are dying by the dozens everyday marks the beginning of a united cause. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step and I see this historic event as the first step in the right direction.
If any of you still don’t see the point of it then God help you.