NA rejects resolution seeking public holiday on Iqbal’s birthday


–NA passes resolution paying tribute to slain JUI-S chief Maulana Samiul Haq


ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday rejected a resolution seeking a public holiday on Allama Muhammad Iqbal’s birth anniversary on November 9.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Member of National Assembly (MNA) Dr Nisar Cheema moved the resolution, which was opposed by the government as well as the opposition parties, including the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), and PML-N itself.

Cheema said that the holiday could be a fitting ode to the great thinker and scholar. He reminded the House that Iqbal’s birth anniversary used to be observed as a holiday in the past, however, it was called off a few years previously.

“The government has allowed 52 offs annually by declaring Saturday as a weekly holiday along with Sunday, but it is not ready to observe one holiday to pay tribute to Iqbal.”

PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal was one to reject the proposal, adding that it had been put up before him last year too when he was serving as the interior minister.

“Instead of enjoying picnics and parties and sitting idle on a holiday, schools and colleges should be asked to arrange special ceremonies and programmes to pay tribute to Allama Iqbal on Nov 9”, he emphasised.

Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi also opposed the resolution, arguing that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government believed in hard work and Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet members “had not taken a single holiday themselves”.

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari expressed her amazement that the PML-N lawmaker was putting up a resolution that even his own party members were opposed to.

Defending the resolution, Cheema argued that the lawmakers opposed to a public holiday on Nov 9 should also apply their rationale to the public holiday given on Quaid-i-Azam’s birthday on December 25, which should be cancelled as well.

Summing up the discussion, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ali Mohammad Khan suggested that the House should not reject the resolution, but ask the mover to consider some improvements in it or withdraw it.

However, the PML-N lawmaker did not press for the resolution any further.

Later, the House unanimously passed a resolution paying tribute to slain Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-S) chief Maulana Samiul Haq and condemned his murder.