Pakistan’s minority lawmakers call for holidays on Hindu festivals

Islamabad, March 25 (IANS) Pakistan’s non-Muslim members of the National Assembly have suggested that days be shaved off the Eid holidays so that national holidays could be observed on Hindu festivals as well.

Pakistan People’s Party lawmaker Ramesh Lal and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Ramesh Kumar and Vankwani raised the issue in the National Assembly on Thursday, Dawn online reported.

Lal lauded the Sindh government for declaring Holi a gazetted holiday and suggested that the federal government also follow the suit.

Vankwani demanded that the federal government should declare a holiday on the occasion of Holi and Diwali — the two main festivals of Hindus.

“If you think that there are already too many holidays in the country, then days can be subtracted from the three to four-day long Eid holidays,” he added.

He referred to a statement by Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed, who recently observed that Pakistan already has too many national holidays.

None of the legislators from religious parties — Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl — objected to Vankwani’s suggestion.

Later, in his speech, Khalil George, a Christian PML-N member, also supported the demands of the Hindu members of the assembly.

“We do not have any problems with holidays on our festivals as Easter falls on a Sunday, while Christmas is already a holiday thanks to Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s birth anniversary,” he said, adding “but I do support their cause”.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Hindu assembly member Lal Chand Malhi said that even if there is not a national holiday on Holi and Diwali, these festivals should be made gazetted holidays for Hindus.

“This facility is available to religious minorities in many countries,” he said.

Incidentally, Vijay Jolly — a senior member of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) who recently visited Islamabad, said that Muslims in India have holidays on both Eids and Ashura.

Speaking at the National Press Club, he called for a “similar arrangement for religious minorities in Pakistan”.

India is not the only country in the world where gazetted holidays are available for members of all religious minorities. Most western countries also have such provisions.

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