Islamabad, Mar 18: Pakistan government's decision to declare Diwali, Holi and Easter as holidays for Hindus and Christians appears to be an attempt to steer the country towards a "more moderate ideological direction", a leading daily said today.
Lauding the decision, an editorial in 'The Nation' titled "standing by our minorities" said it was a "very small" measure which should only serve as a start for the government to "reverse the economic imbalance created due to marginalisation faced ever since the partition."
"Christian and Hindu minorities in Pakistan should be congratulated for finally being handed closed holidays for Diwali, Holi and Easter," the editorial said.
"While this measure is a very small one, it goes a long way in telling the minorities that the state will no longer exclude them as it once did," it said. The write-up said that apart from deserved holidays, greater access to "healthcare and education, more jobs and a more tolerant society is what the minorities really need".
The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has been making headlines lately over what seems to be a conviction to steer the country towards "a more moderate ideological direction," it said.
"Whether this new-found inclination towards making moderate policies is a genuine attempt to counter extremism and enable the protection of minorities as a consequence or a means to satisfy western countries remains to be seen," it added.
Noting that the persecution of minorities begins when they are treated as second-class citizens and denied basic rights such as the freedom to practice their religion, it said that denying religious holidays to them further affirms that Pakistan is actively participating in their subjugation.
"Historically, the subcontinent was once the melting pot for all cultures and faiths, and it is time Pakistan started to emulate that as well," it said.
Pakistan's parliament adopted a resolution to declare Holi, Diwali and Easter festivals as public holidays for minorities on Tuesday. Hindu lawmaker Ramesh Kumar Vankwani of PML-N had moved the resolution that said the "government should take steps to declare Holi, Diwali and Easter as closed holidays for minorities".