ISLAMABAD: Amid the traditional respect that marks the birth anniversary of Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal — called the ‘Poet of the East’ — which is being observed today (Wednes­day), the federal governm­ent’s move to restore the Nov 9 public holiday came as a surprise to many.

A communiqué from the PM Office, followed by an official notification from the Cabinet Division, officially restored “the public holiday on occasion of the birthday of Allama Iqbal… throughout the country”.

A changing of the guard ceremony at the mausoleum of Dr Iqbal outside Lahore’s Badshahi Masjid will kick off the events scheduled for the day.

A notification issued on Tuesday said that the Sindh government had also declared Nov 9 a public holiday throughout the province for all government offices, autonomous bodies and corporations.

However, chief of the Sin­dh traders’ alliance Jamil Paracha said in a statement that all shop-ping centres and markets will remain open on Wednesday.

Also on Tuesday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also constituted a committee to highlight the work of the national poet, desiring that a programme be arra­n­ged to highlight the life, work and philosophy of Dr Iqbal for the month of November.

A PM Office notification said that the committee to be supervised by Senator Irfan Siddiqui, shall complete the task within three days with secretarial support from the National Heri­tage and Culture Divi­sion and the resources, expertise and venue of the Iqbal Academy at its disposal.

The State Bank of Pakistan has declared Nov 9 a bank holiday as well, while APP reported that all federal educational institutions had been directed to hold special events in connection with the birth anniversary of Dr Iqbal.

In addition, exams at the Punjab University have been postponed for the public holiday and will be now be held on Dec 8.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2022

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