Islamabad-The National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) celebrated the Independence Day by organizing cultural activities for a large number of people from the twin cities. A large number of people from different walks of life including families and children attended the event at Lok Virsa for promoting the indigenous folk culture of Pakistan in a beautiful way.

Lok Virsa launched a ‘milli naghma contest’ in July 2018. In this contest, fifty entries were received from all over the country. Twenty six contestants appeared in two auditions held at Lok Virsa on 7th and 9th August 2018. The final three contestants were granted special prizes from Lok Virsa in recognition of their talent. 

Nimra Khan from Peshawar stood first with cash prize of Rs 15,000, Maryam from Skardu received second prize of Rs 10,000, and Hina Abbasi from Islamabad received third prize of Rs 7,000.  Judges included eminent Tabla player Muhammad Ajmal, renowned flute player Salman Aadil and writer Naeem Fatima Alvi. All the contestants who appeared in the auditions received participation certificates from Lok Virsa. These prizes and certificates were awarded in the live folk musical concert held at Lok Virsa open air theatre in the evening.While talking to the media, Executive Director, Lok Virsa Shahera Shahid said, “It was an effort on the part of Lok Virsa to celebrate the 71st anniversary of Pakistan’s independence through purely a cultural perspective. The event provided an opportunity to master artisans, folk artists and folk musicians from all parts of the country to demonstrate their skills and express the message of peace, unity and integration among all federating units at this auspicious occasion”.

In a separate event, Youth Excellence Award holders vowed to continue their contribution for the betterment of Pakistani society.  They also hoped that the newly elected governments would ensure fulfilment of their commitments towards youth development and empowerment in Pakistan through allocation of 4% of GDP for overall education and one percent for higher education, social inclusion of youth including participation in decision-making as well as access to quality education and health care, provision of employment and other related opportunities. 

These views were expressed by representatives of youth organizations who were acknowledged for their valuable contribution in different spheres of life during a special ceremony organized in connection with 71st Independence Day celebrations and International Youth Day 2018 at Islamabad.  Executive Director Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services Zafarullah Khan, Member National Assembly Tahir Iqbal Chaudhry, Rector Muslim Youth University Prof Dr Tahir Hijazi, Former President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce Zafar Bakhtawari, Director General HEC Farmanullah Anjum , National Coordinator Inter University Consortium Murtaza Noor and Zahid Iqbal Chaudhry spoke on the occasion and highlighted the importance of effective role of youth in socio-economic development of country.

 The speakers said that Pakistan currently has the largest percentage of young people ever recorded in its history, 64% of the total population is below the age of 30 while 29% remains between the ages of 15 and 29 years. This youth bulge would critically impact Pakistan as a country if not dealt with appropriately, depending on how the country invests in the youth by providing them with quality education, employment and meaningful engagement opportunities that could empower our young to unleash their potential.