Pak Hindu lawmakers demand holidays on religious festivals

ISLAMABAD, Mar 25:  Pakistan’s Hindu lawmakers have asked the Government to reduce holidays on Eid and use them as official off-days during Hindu religious festivals.
It was proposed by opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Hindu lawmakers Ramesh Lal and Ramesh Kumar Vankwani of ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz yesterday in the Parliament.
The move followed after Sindh provincial government declared Holi a gazetted holiday.
Vankwani demanded that the federal Government should declare a holiday on the occasion of Holi and Diwali – the two main Hindu festivals, Dawn reported.
“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 was referring to a statement by Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed, who recently said on the floor of the house that Pakistan already had too many national holidays.
Surprisingly, none of the legislators from religious parties – Jamaat-i-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam objected to Vankwani’s suggestion.
Later, in his speech, Khalil George, a Christian PML-N lawmaker also supported the demands of the Hindu lawmakers.
“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.”
Jinnah’s birthday on December 25 is already an official holiday in Pakistan.
Talking to Dawn, Pakistan Tekreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Hindu lawmaker 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.
Vijay Jolly – a senior member of the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) who recently visited Islamabad, had said that Muslims in India have holidays on both Eids, as well as Ashura. (PTI)


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