Islamabad, March 18 (IANS) A Pakistani daily on Friday lauded the declaration of Diwali, Holi and Easter as holidays for Hindus and Christians, but stressed that what they really needed was “greater access to healthcare and education, more jobs and a more tolerant society”.
An editorial “Standing by our minorities” in The Nation said the Christian and Hindu minorities in Pakistan should be congratulated for finally being handed closed holidays for Diwali, Holi and Easter.
They can now take leaves from their schools and offices on these days if they belong to the relevant belief system.
The daily said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has been making headlines lately “as everyone expresses their shock over what seems to be a conviction to steer the country towards a more moderate ideological direction”.
“Whether this new-found inclination towards making moderate policies is a genuine attempt to counter extremism and enable the protection of minorities as a consequence or a means to satisfy western countries, remains to be seen,” it added.
The editorial said the alienation felt as a result of the minorities having to work on their holidays is hard to imagine for all those that belong to the majority religion.
“The persecution of minorities begins when they are treated as second-class citizens and denied basic rights such as the freedom to practise their religion. Denying religious holidays to them only further affirms that the state of Pakistan is actively participating in their subjugation.
“While this measure is a very small one, it goes a long way in telling the minorities that the state will no longer exclude them as it once did.”
The daily went on to say that “the government should also look to reverse the economic imbalance created as a result of the marginalisation faced ever since the partition”.
“Apart from deserved holidays, greater access to healthcare and education, more jobs and a more tolerant society is what the minorities really need,” it said, adding that the subcontinent was once the melting pot for all cultures and faiths, and it is time Pakistan starts to emulate that as well.