Of Flags And Anthems: New Political Party And Vexillology

Of Flags And Anthems: New Political Party And Vexillology

Former Karachi Mayor Mustafa Kamal after his return to Pakistan offered a new political party to fellow civilians. His entry proved to be dramatic as he denounced his political affiliations with MQM, claimed himself to lead the commonfolk and as an alternative presented the name of his party, along with the other dissidents, as “Pak Sir Zameen Party” and the flag of his party would be none other than the splendid “Sabz Hilali Parcham” or the national flag of Pakistan. He added that formally another flag would be assigned to his party but he considers the Parcham-e-Sitarah o-Hilal (flag of the crescent and star) as the only flag he has to offer.

A civilian named Faisal Jadoon lodged an application in the Islamabad High Court against Mr. Mustafa Kamal for using the national flag and the national anthem for his political motives. He maintained that the flag and national anthem are national assets and it is incorrect and unconstitutional for a person to use them for a political party. The applicant prayed to the court through his counsel that the name of the party and its flag be changed and Mr. Kamal be directed not to use the national flag and national anthem in his political endeavors.

That stirs up an already heated debate – a couple of years ago MQM Chief Altaf Husain adamantly urged his party workers to raise and display the national flag over the buildings they reside in to display their love towards the motherland. What does the law has to say about this?

Here are some national flag protocols that must be observed:

  • No other flag must fly higher (except the United Nations flag at United Nations buildings).
  • When displayed or flown alongside other national flags, the national flag must be displayed or flown at the same height as the other national flags, never lower.
  • When displayed alongside provincial, military or corporate flags, the national flag must be higher.
  • When tied to a mast, it must be tied only at the left (at the beginning of the white bar) and left to fly freely without any obstruction.
  • Must not touch the ground, shoes or feet or anything unclean.
  • Must never be flown in darkness.
  • Must be raised at dawn and lowered at dusk (except on the Parliament of Pakistan, which is the only official building on which the flag is never lowered). When flown over the Parliament of Pakistan at night, it must always remain lit with artificial light.
  • Must not be marked with anything (including words or pictures).
  • When raising: (i) must be saluted to by all uniformed personnel, (ii) others must stand in attention.
  • Must be raised or lowered ceremoniously.
  • Must never be displayed vertically.
  • When displayed horizontally, the white strip must always be at the left, with green field on the right.
  • Must not fly or be displayed upside down (except in case of distress in country) or with the crescent and star facing left.
  • Must not be displayed anywhere where it is likely to get dirty.
  • Must not be set on fire or trampled upon.
  • Must not be buried or lowered into a grave (when burying a flag-bearing casket, the national flag must be detached from the casket and held above the grave as the casket is lowered or removed from the casket before burial).

Other rules regarding the use of national flag are given in the Pakistan Flag Rules but instances of misuse have been reported as these rules are not available online and the people who are not entitiled to do so display the flag on their vehicles and/or official buildings or in Mr Altaf Husain’s words “residence”.

The national flag of Pakistan was designed by Amir Kidwai and was stitched for the first time by Master Altaf Husain (no, not the MQM chief). As for the national anthem we all know (maybe) that it was written by Abul Asr (of great impact) Hafeez Jalandhari and was composed by A G Chagla even before it was written down. The people still call it to be heavily Persianised, and referring to “Pak Sir Zameen Ka Nizam” as the only Urdu part of the qaumi taranah Mr Kamal was fortunate enough to choose the Urdu wala part as the name representing his political resurrection.

A few days earlier, before Paksitan and India’s match, the famous Shafqat Amanat Ali was asked for an apology from his fans as he messed up singing the national anthem of Pakistan longer than the original rendition of 80 seconds and mixed up the lyrics, for which he cited technical glitches via his social media account. Big B who was there with him to sing India’s national anthem faces even severe charges as a formal complaint has been lodged against him in India for singing the national anthem of India erroneously.

Well, would Mr Kamal be asked for an apology if the honourable court does not allow him to use the national flag as his party’s emblem? Why could he not be well prepared? People await…


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any organization with which he might be associated.

Muhammad Ali Jafri

Author: Muhammad Ali Jafri

The writer is a final year student of law at S.M. Law College. His areas of interest include law, history and governance and public policy.