Every year, Sindhis celebrate Aikta Day (Unity Day) to express love for their land, culture and identity. In the 7th annual Aikta Day, I witnessed hope in the minds and hearts of people who love their land and want a political change in their province. Raja Kandhar from Qasimabad, Hyderabad beamed his love with the land through opening words on Aikta Day, saying: “We are very thankful to Ali Kazi Sahib for giving us this day”, Mr. Ali Kazi is an eminent journalist and a well-known media identity. He took initiative first time when former President of Pakistan Mr Asif Ali Zardari moved to a foreign tour wearing Sindhi Topi and he was criticized by anchorman Shahid Masood. It was Mr. Ali Kazi who asked all people from the province and country to mark a day dedicated to showing and promoting Sindhi culture annually, now people within and without Sindh celebrate culture day wearing Sindhi Topi and Ajrak, come out on streets and show their culture to the world. “He has taken us together. Celebrating Aikta day is the sign of having love, unity, and a move to turn darkness into light. We all must be on same page for political change and this move will definitely reach the destination”, added Raja. We should take pride in our cultural heritage and promote it. There should be special centres for women to learn Sindhi embroidery and other traditional craft. This will improve their economic condition and ensure that the traditional craft is preserved Aslam, present with his children near Hyder Chowk, expressed that: “We celebrate Aikta Day because we are Sindhi. And it is our culture which asks us to love the land that is our mother; it gets us developed same as our mothers do”. “Despite belonging to different castes and political affiliations, but on this day, we all celebrate with each other, sharing the bliss of the day. Wow!”, said Ayaz Hashim Bhutto waiting for his friends at Hyder Chowk as he was to make a rally visiting whole Hyderabad city. All the way from entrance gate to the guest room, the lovely smell of fragrance delighted me. I entered the guest room where a person of sober personality, Mr Ali Kazi, stood up, shook hands and greeted me in a traditional way, offered tea and biscuits then the conversation regarding Aikta Day kicked off. “This day is zilch but, yes it is only about love, peace, and a forceful instrument helping in eliminating extremism and terrorism”. When asked how culture promotes love, he answered with a healthy facial expression, saying: “Look, the people gathered to mark Aikta Day, though having different identities, political background, sects, religions, tribes, etc, but they are together as wanted to join each other i.e. a sign of love due to Sindhi culture importance”. He answered to the question: “Such events bring people close together. And it is the beauty of the country and a concept of co-existence showing that we can love together. Actually it is about knowing yourself”. This day has brings a smile not only on the face of a one class of society but business community also admires this day. Haji Yaqoob of Lajpal Cap House near Tower Market, Hyderabad was very happy, and he said: “The sale of my merchandise (Sindhi Topi etc) on this day is higher than the rest of the year. People from all parts of Sindh come to us and purchase Sindhi Topi for themselves and their friends, relatives, and family members. All people of Sindh celebrate this day like Eid, I have noticed it”. Shops were decorated with lighting, Sindhi Ajrak and Topi wearing the purchasers roaming around the bazaars, lanes, and streets of Hyderabad. Sindhi singer from Karachi, Shehnila Ali, was of opinion in a way that kept her in the love for land beautifully: “We are lucky people because we have rich identity as Sindhi. We read Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai as symbol of peace. Celebrating Aikta Day is for all. As a daughter of Sindh, I am proud to sing Aikta songs. Ali Kazi Sahib must be honored in all ways as he made a day possible for us. I would like to say him thanks by heart”. Aslam Laghari, advocate by profession living in Hyderabad says: “To me, this day is more than Eid”, answering that, “Love for the land is the basic right of every person. It is more than the language. If you see in the constitution of our country, one will find that Article 2 to 28 expresses the basic rights of people while it is package of freedom of expression, secured education, etc, and while state is responsible to protect these rights”. “If culture is not important than what is Moen-Jo-Daro? Harappa ruins? Actually these try to say us more than we think and see. Culture plays a vital role in someone’s life, it gives a way for living a life”, he added. Full of enthusiasm, Mr. Ali Kazi, said: “Culture is not the activity of one day alone like wearing Sindhi Topi and Ajrak coming on the roads then going back to home. Actually, it is the day of developing relations, comprehending each other, knowing each other’s’ problems, thinking for the solutions, setting goals and objectives for having true beauty of life. It is the day for making promises for the betterment of society.” When asked whether the Aikta Day will bring (positive) change in the society?, he answered with having a hope that could be seen in his eyes, said that: “Celebrating Aikta Day is meant to have this that you have asked. People have gathered, shared their interest that yes they want change and one day these people of society will definitely bring change which will be evidenced by the world”. Khan Sahib Ustad Mazhar Hussain of Gawaliyar Gharano expressed his view regarding Aikta Day at his home but in the light of classical music, he says that: “Celebrating Aikta/cultural day is very important for us as Ragas are. We have our own culture. While socio-economic scenario indicating us to celebrate cultural events. Aikta is from tolerance and peace that is need of the day”, he added that, “there is Sindhi there is Sindh. I represented Sindh in all over the world where I performed and it was the gesture from my side that I love my Sindh and my land, my culture, as it is my identity”. Engineering scientist and an educationist by profession, Dean of IEEE Dr. Bhawani Shankar Choudhry of MUET, Jamshoro unfolded his view in a way that: “Culture has always played an instrumental role in people’s life. It is intellectualism of people they have come out to celebrate Aikta day. In making it possible, I believe, science and technology have played more important role. All people should know the identity of Sindh and learn to teach and teach to learn”. “I am the son of Sindh”, saying legendary film actor Mustafa Qureshi, “Those who celebrate their culture only for one day is actually doing brutality with their culture and land, to me, they are not loyal son of the soil. One will hardly find Aikta as Sindh has since last 5ooo years. Moen-Jo-Daro is an evidence of our culture and moreover is sign of our civilization”. When asked when nations do not have unity then what they could have? He replied: “When nations do not follow Aikta within their circle other nations get them defeated. Culture does not include only wearing Topi and Ajrak but also asks people to remain united be seen in our daily activities of life”. Prof Engr Mushtaq Mirani, chairman Sindh Democratic Forum, viewed that: “Sindhis are children of Indus civilization, which is one of the oldest civilizations counted in the world. Collective unity is essential for survival of society leading to global society. Aikta day does not mean to hurt anyone who is not Sindhi. It is for having collective unity, respect for all, that’s why on this day there is no violation, weapon demonstration and no any hatred against other nation”. “Sindhi Aikta Day is for promoting Sindhi culture”, said Dr Yasmeen Kazi of SMBBMC, Lyari, “It is not about wearing Sindhi Topi and dancing. We should take pride in our cultural heritage and promote it. We should arrange for centers to teach girls and women Rilli work, Sindhi embroidery and other traditional craft. This will improve their condition economically and ensure that the traditional craft lives on. We should also take measures to improve living conditions for the poor of this province including health and education. Sincerity to the province means sincerity in work. To become one nation, young people must learn about the culture of all the provinces and appreciate it. To develop a sense of nationhood, there must be unity in diversity.” “Sindh deserves better than what is today. People have kept love for the land and culture since long time but they did not have opportunity to show globally. Today they have a day to show what they are, what they want, and how they want to achieve all this in the life. I am sure if their collective wisdom sustains, one day people will have good governance, good education, better health, less poverty and a life full of happiness, prosperity, and powerful Aikta among all segments of life”. The writer is a researcher, freelance contributor, and student of MS in Public Policy at MUET, Jamshoro. He is currently working as MEAL Officer in Sindh Rural Support Programme, Hyderabad. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @furqanppolicy Published in Daily Times, March 2nd 2018.