ISLAMABAD: The adoption of a National Assembly (NA) resolution proposing public holidays on Easter, Diwali and Holi on Tuesday was cause for excitement as local audiences and international media celebrated the move towards a more inclusive Pakistan.
The resolution moved independently by PML-N MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani ─ without consultation with other PML-N lawmakers ─ called for national holidays on Diwali, Holi and Easter, and was initially a cause for confusion as it had not been discussed with other PML-N lawmakers.
Vankwani told Dawn.com that National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, while reading out the resolution in the house, said the holidays would be applicable to minorities, not the public at large. However, minorities have for years taken days off from work for their religious holidays ─ and some workplace attendance policies provide for these days off.
During the session on Tuesday, Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed said that although he did not oppose the resolution, the number of holidays in Pakistan are more than any other country and was of the opinion that the resolution should be reconsidered.
Despite the initial confusion in the house, the resolution was eventually passed by lawmakers.
All that remains to bring it into effect is an Interior Ministry notification officially declaring holidays on Holi, Diwali and Easter.
It is the government's "moral obligation" to issue a notification regarding the holidays as lawmakers have passed the resolution, a senior Interior Ministry official while talking to Dawn.com said, adding that the ministry has not yet issued the notification.
A number of resolutions are passed in the NA but action is not taken on all resolutions. While it is expected that the government may announce a national holiday for minorities on the occasions of Diwali, Holi and Easter, it is not yet confirmed.
Once a notification is issued, however, giving minorities holidays on those days will become a legal obligation for workplaces.