Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a Pakistan PML-N MNA (Member of National Assembly) who got elected for the reserved minorities seat in Tharparkar district of Sindh, presented a resolution of holidays for minorities on their festivals. He said that their house has the opinion that the government of Pakistan should take steps to declare Easter, Holi and Diwali as closed holidays for the minorities.
The National Assembly on Tuesday accepted their resolution paving way for government to declare Holi, Diwali and Easter as public holidays for the minorities of the country.
Initiative to present this bill was taken after Nawaz Sharif attended the Diwali festival in November 2015. He is the first Prime Minister to have done so. The speech he gave while addressing the Hindu community of Karachi had messages of solidarity. The Prime Minister said that,
Every Pakistani from any religion belongs to me, and I belong to them. I’m everyone’s Prime Minister.
In Pakistan, about 2% of the population is Hindu and Christians make 1.6% of the total population.
Do you know: Easter is a festival which celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. (Source: History)
Islam is the core religion of Pakistan and being a Muslim country, the needs of minorities must be catered to, and that includes the provision of holidays on festivals. Though the followers of other religions are allowed to celebrate their religious festivities by taking holidays, yet these holidays have not been officially declared.
Instead of directing the public sector heads to allow non-Muslims to take leaves on their religious festivals like Easter, Holi, etc.an Islamic Republic, the government needs to notify these closed days as public holidays for the minorities alone. If the government gives these leaves an official status for the minorities, it will provide them with a sense of satisfaction.
The only issue that the government faces in this aspect is that Pakistan has more public holidays than most of the countries in the world. Thus the government is reluctant to announce more official holidays publicly. Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said that minorities could be granted holidays on their festivals by their respective offices, adding that,
Pakistan already has the highest rates of public holidays as compared to the rest of the world.
This government concern is something to ponder over. However, any positive legislation must be welcomed and supported by all. Some people might call this a secular move but let us not be misled. It’s one of the steps toward becoming the Islamic Republic in the real sense, not just by mere words, but by action too, where minorities are protected and are given their rights. Only a country, which offers it’s minorities the freedom to practice their religion, is a Muslim country in true sense.
Let us pledge to promote love for all. We have to make our country a safer and a better place to live in. The founder of the country, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, said in a press conference in New Delhi on 14th July 1947,
Minorities, to whichever community they may belong, will be safeguarded. Their religion of faith or belief will be secure. There will be no interference of any kind with their freedom of worship. They will have their protection concerning their religion, faith, their life, and their culture. They will be, in all respects, the equal citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste or creed.
The founder of the country wished the minorities to be respected and safeguarded, and that includes their rights of celebrating religious events. The government of Pakistan welcomes this initiative, so should we as people, for United we Pakistanis stand, Divided we fall!
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