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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Govt asks HEC to revoke its order of ban on celebrating Holi

Education Minister Rana Tanveer Hussain has asked the Higher Education Commission to withdraw the letter that took exception to the Hindu festival of Holi being celebrated at a university.

The Higher Education Commission (HEC)’s letter condemning Holi celebrations has sparked intense criticism across the country. In the latest development, the government has asked the HEC to withdraw its letter.

According to the details, Salman Sufi, who heads the Prime Minister’s Strategic Reforms Unit, said Education Minister Rana Tanveer Hussain had asked the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to withdraw a notification that took exception to the Hindu festival of Holi being celebrated at a university.

“Religious harmony is to be celebrated rather than deterred. Have spoken to Rana Tanveer and he has taken a stern notice of the notification by HEC on discouraging religious festivals and has asked them to withdraw it. We must bring cohesion than division in our society,” Salman Sufi said on Twitter.

Although the letter did not mention the name of any institution, it was written after an event of Holi was held at Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) Islamabad in March. Since then videos of the event have been circulating on social media in which students can be seen dancing, prompting the HEC to issue its controversial letter.

Read more: Holi celebrations in QAU Islamabad sparks controversy

The letter, written by the executive director (ED) of HEC, Dr Shaista Sohail, directed all the universities to keep a ‘distance’ from celebrating the Hindu festival of Holi on campuses. It stated that the Hindu festival of Holi was celebrated in a university, and it “caused concern and disadvantageously affected the country’s image as Pakistan has an Islamic identity.”

“Unfortunately, it is sad to witness activities that portray a complete disconnect from our socio-cultural values and an erosion of the country’s Islamic identity. One such instance that has caused concern was the fervour exhibited in marking Hindu festival of Holi. This widely reported/publicised event from the platform of a university has caused concern and has disadvantageously affected the country’s image,” the letter said.

Read more: HEC bans Holi Celebrations in all universities across Pakistan

However, the letter has triggered criticism throughout the country especially in Sindh as there are a large number of Hindus there and they also believe that such events are part of Sindhi culture.

Lawyer and rights activist Jibran Nasir has called on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to immediately take notice of the matter and demanded that the HEC withdraw the letter. After criticism, the high-ups of the HEC and Ministry of Education seemed to have distanced them from the ED.