Govt agrees to Holi, Easter holidays

Published: March 16, 2016


ISLAMABAD: The government on Tuesday reluctantly accepted a resolution moved by a ruling party lawmaker in the National Assembly seeking ‘closed holidays’ on the annual festivals of minority communities, including Holi, Diwali and Easter.

Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a PNL-N MNA elected on a seat reserved for minorities in Tharparkar district of Sindh, presented
the resolution which said: “This house is of the opinion that the government should take steps to declare Holi, Diwali and Easter as closed holidays for minorities.”

NA urges govt to declare Holi, Dewali and Easter as holidays

Vankwani, who is also patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council, was of the view that the announcement was inevitable for the good image of Pakistan as such holidays were also being observed in the United States on Eid, and in India on Muharram.

The resolution, however, took the cabinet ministers by surprise, and Minister of State for Religious Affairs Pir Aminul Hasnat Shah was visibly confused when Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq asked him if he agreed with the resolution.

Hasnat said the interior ministry had the authority to notify such holidays and that his ministry has nothing to do with it. However, he was hesitant to give a categorical reply when the speaker asked him again if he opposed the resolution.

Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid came to Hasnat’s rescue. He said the minorities could be granted holiday by their respective offices. “Pakistan already has one of the highest rates of public holidays compared to the rest of the world,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Mohammed Yousaf said it was the interior ministry’s prerogative to make such decisions. Ignoring Yousaf, the speaker once again asked Hasnat if he endorsed the resolution. Hasnat, now visibly exasperated, replied, “As you wish”, which elicited a chuckle from both treasury and opposition benches. Later, in response to the speaker query, Parliamentary Secretary for Interior Mariyyum Aurangzeb said they would not oppose the resolution which was subsequently passed.

The second blow

Since Tuesday is a private members’ day in the National Assembly, Aurangzeb had to beat a retreat after opposing a resolution by PTI’s Murad Saeed which asked the government to take steps to strengthen Pakistan-Afghanistan border security.

US declines to declare national holiday on Eid

She talked about the ministry’s initiatives to secure border and then stated that the government would oppose it. It invited ire of opposition lawmakers, not only of the PTI but also others. After over 50-minute heated discussion, Aurangzeb said she would not oppose the resolution but would only share the interior ministry’s version about securing border.

Aisha Syed of Jamaat-e-Islami walked out of the house with four other MNAs in protest against ‘the government’s reluctance’ to release development funds for women parliamentarians.  Earlier, the assembly passed six bills, related to different issues, including an amendment in the Constitution.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2016.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (19)

  • Kickass
    Mar 16, 2016 - 9:37AM

    I am curious as to why this Parliament is so concerned about such frivolous matters. Apparently they are in slumber listening to the flute of ‘development’ in Punjab and Islamabad.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Mar 16, 2016 - 12:07PM

    Although the premise behind this is good…….why is it that perks and privileges, salary increases, holidays, foreign visits etc get passed with such alacrity, while matters relating to peoples welfare drag on for years. Recommend

  • nakhtar
    Mar 16, 2016 - 12:39PM

    Why are we so obsessed with other religion holidays rather than our own?
    If our own holidays are more than enough then no need of giving such holidays. We have already excluded Iqbal Day and other famous personality. We know what’s the prominence of Poet Iqbal in Liberation of this country. Minorities can themselves take holidays through their own department as it is being done in UK, USA and Europe. UK has large number of Muslim community, larger then Pakistan minorities’ percentage but still they don’t respect their religious rights. Most of people celebrate their Eid and other festivities either in offices or by losing their pay. We respect their religious rights by allowing them to celebrate as they wish. Pak Govt has already cancelled our own holidays and yet we are debating this issue at this highest forum; what a pity. Recommend

  • CasualObserver
    Mar 16, 2016 - 7:54PM

    Very very happy to hear about this! Congratulations to my fellow Hindu and Christian brothers and sisters! And please ignore the negative comments left by cynics on this article. Recommend

  • Shakeel Ahmad
    Mar 17, 2016 - 3:51AM

    If we expect respect from other nations of the world, then its only proper to respect other cultures, traditions and observances.Recommend

  • brar
    Mar 17, 2016 - 4:17AM

    @nakhtar: Say straight way that they are second or third class citizens so they have rights, this shows your hate towards other religions. In India Eid and Muhhrum are gazetted holidays. Iqbal was a poet and there are thousands as Tagore who even won the Noble prize there is no holiday for Tagore. It shows minorities should leave Pakistan but even then u will not live peacefully because there will be Shia, Shunni clash as Shias are alredy being mascared.Recommend

  • Mouli
    Mar 17, 2016 - 8:57AM

    Surprised to hear that holiday for Diwali and Easter are reluctantly agreed upon.

    In India, we have Govt holiday for Ramzan, Bakrid, Muharram, Milad-e-nabi, Christmas and Good Friday. No problem for Easter as it is a Sunday. Apart from this there are 2 RH that the govt employees can avail on their respective religious days. Although private companies do not give holiday on all these days, they take care to have at least one holiday for Muslim and one holiday Christian festival among the 9 or 10 holidays that they declare.

    Anyway, it your country’s matters where minorities are really minorities in terms of %.Recommend

  • Bunny Rabbit
    Mar 17, 2016 - 12:44PM

    Bravoooo Heres to a new d a w n … Recommend

  • S25
    Mar 17, 2016 - 3:57PM

    Holidays for death or birth anniversaries of famous pakistani personalities should be excludedRecommend

  • kathy
    Mar 17, 2016 - 4:20PM

    @nakhtar: People belonging to minorities are Pakistanis, they did not even migrate from other parts of the world or even India, they have lived here for centuries. Actually Muslims came from outside these are the people of this land hence more entitled than you and me. And like Pakistani or Muslim migrants who live in Europe. Muslims get public funding to rum religious schools, community centres even mosques. They also get Eid holidays on account of religious festivities. And just like Pakistani never agree on one Eid therefore a public holiday does not eventuate. Many Western countries have asked their respective national Islamic councils to agree to one day to be entitled for a public holiday but unity is something that unfortunately Muslims cannot have. Your ideas are outdated filled with hatred and at the same time you are asking for rights for Muslim minorities in the West, same rights that you are opposing for minorities in Pakistan.Recommend

  • howdie
    Mar 17, 2016 - 4:49PM

    Easter is always on a Sunday. #somuchforreligioussensitivity #smhRecommend

  • Lion
    Mar 17, 2016 - 5:25PM

    I think govt is taking good action

    Every person must have equal right.

    Those who think minority has no value they should take leave from respective dept

    Then y there is holiday on Eid ??

    It should be also canceled

    Islam tell about equality and love.

    No to hate with others

    Some people have no full knowledge thy act like this fokish and hate othersRecommend

  • Nowroze Mubarak
    Mar 17, 2016 - 6:55PM

    Nwroze is celebrated on the 21st. of March. This occasion has its roots in Central Asia, and is celebrated mainly by people belonging to this region from Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kirghistan, Kazakhstan, also regional groups such as Kurds, celebrate this occasion. The celebration has ancient roots about 3000 years old, and celebrated to herald the Spring Solstice, when the day and night are equal, when the cold winters are over and the weather changes to herald the blossoming of flowers, fruits, and farming. Navroze is recognized by the United Nations, and is celebrated even now in the Americas, Europe, by people of Central Asian heritage. When there are so many conflicts going on and differences being given more importance, this is a great way to show the world that there are indeed occasions in the world that have common customs, common heritage, common hope, common happiness. This is one reason why Pakistan should acknowledge this great occasion, and celebrate it. This is a Pre-Zoroastrian custom, and is celebrated with traditional customs by many people in Pakistan, by Parsis, Irani’s, Ismailis, and who ever else who wishes to join in. So Nowroze Mubarak to all Readers, wishing you all lots of happiness. By the way,’ Now” means new, and “roz” means day or year, Happy NewYear. Recommend

  • Ramalah khan
    Mar 17, 2016 - 7:42PM

    What nonsense, what is the percentage of Hindus and Christians in Pakistan for these festivals to be given a holiday here? There are Hindus & Christians living in Singapore and Malaysia also, will they declare Holi & Diwali as holidays then? Just do not fall a victim to India’s right wing criticism and follow own policies. Concentrate on other larger social problems in Pakistan than allowing these communal feelings to guide you to make you look like India. Recommend

  • OSD
    Mar 18, 2016 - 12:56AM

    I deeply respect my Pakistani Hindu and Christian brothers, but this is a surprising move. I have not seen any public holidays for Eid, Diwali and Holi in the UK or any other developed country. Pakistan should instead reduce the number of holidays it already has in the calendar due to low productivity.Recommend

  • Hameed
    Mar 18, 2016 - 12:59AM

    @Ramalah khan:

    What nonsense, what is the percentage of Hindus and Christians in Pakistan for these festivals to be given a holiday here?

    What has percentage got to do with rights? Wherever Muslims are in minority they shouldn’t get any rights? Recommend

  • kharal21
    Mar 18, 2016 - 1:37AM

    The related matters for the 2 percent minorities should be weighted according to their presence in respective offices and on those very days of their religious festival could be their holiday rather than all 100 percent people going to sleepRecommend

  • lol
    Mar 18, 2016 - 6:19PM

    Great step. Even though it is a not an important issue, but when you get a break from work, or school because of someone else’s religion, you learn more about it, and maybe celebrate a little with them too. Recommend

  • bigsaf
    Mar 18, 2016 - 10:32PM

    Considering the negative responses here, I bet the sentiments would be worse amongst the majority right wing religious conservatives who’ll see it as a liberal or secular conspiracy against Islam. Probably might consider protesting it like they’re doing to the women’s rights bill…Recommend

More in Pakistan