Pakistan bans Holi celebrations in university

Pakistan says festivals like Holi are a betrayal of its “sociocultural values” and Islamic identity

NEW DELHI | Updated: 21 June, 2023 2:42 pm IST
The notification said Holi celebrations damage Pakistan's image.

NEW DELHI: In a shocking move, Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission has sparked fury by banning Holi celebrations on university campuses nationwide. The commission claims that such festivities are a betrayal of the country’s “sociocultural values” and Islamic identity.

The absurd notice, deeming Holi celebrations as damaging to the country’s image, stated, “This widely reported event has caused concern and has disadvantageously affected the country’s image.”

While promoting inclusivity and tolerance, the notice acknowledges the importance of cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity, but cautions against going overboard. It accuses students of being manipulated by self-serving interests, urging them to embrace critical thinking rather than blindly following such activities.

The ban prohibits Holi celebrations on campus and urges students to abstain from organizing such events. It suggests that universities prioritize academic pursuits, intellectual debates, and cognitive learning while providing avenues for extra-curricular activities and rational discourse.

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The ban comes in response to videos of vibrant Holi celebrations at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, which quickly went viral. Students were seen joyfully playing with colors and participating in the festivities. However, it should be noted that Holi traditionally takes place in March.

Critics argue that Islamabad fails to appreciate the significance of Holi and Diwali, which are deeply rooted in Sindhi culture. Veena, a Pakistani journalist, tweeted her frustration, highlighting the hypocrisy of politicians who claim to champion human rights but disregard the Sindhi language and Hindu festivals. She challenged Bilawal Bhutto and others to oppose this ban.

Holi and Diwali hold immense cultural importance in Sindh, the second-largest province in Pakistan. This ban on festival celebrations strikes at the hearts and minds of the people residing in this region, undermining their cultural identity.

The ban on Holi celebrations has ignited a storm of anger and raises questions about the government’s commitment to religious and cultural freedom. The people of Pakistan demand respect for their traditions and the recognition of their rich heritage.

Pakistan’s discriminatory policies and atrocities against Hindus ignored and underreported.

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In September, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addressed an event in New York during the UN General Assembly. He expressed his concerns about the escalating violence against Muslims in India, which he attributed to the promotion of the “Hindutva ideology” within the country. Bhutto emphasized that this ideology posed a threat to the two billion Muslim minority in India. However, he failed to acknowledge the abysmal record of Pakistan in protecting the basic rights of minorities back home.

During the devastating floods in Pakistan that disproportionately affected Hindus in Sindh province, reports of atrocities against this dwindling community emerged. Sadly, the plight of flood-hit Hindus in Sindh has been largely ignored and underreported. Journalist Nasrallah Gaddani, who had been exposing the Pakistani government’s atrocities against Hindu minorities even during the floods, had a chilling effect and resulted in decrease of such reports.

According to Pakistan’s Centre for Peace and Justice, Hindus make up less than two percent of the population, with approximately 95 percent of them residing in Sindh province. Given the ongoing atrocities, their numbers continue to dwindle, while major global powers seem to remain mere curious onlookers, failing to address the grave human rights violations.

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