LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led Punjab government has decided to allow Basant festival celebrations in February, Information Minister Fayazul Hassan Chohan confirmed Tuesday.
“Basant will be celebrated in Lahore in the second week of February,” the minister said while addressing a press conference at the Alhamra Arts Council.
Basant is an enormous economic activity and a source of promoting tourism, he said and added that its celebrations should remain within the prescribed rules and regulations keeping in view the public safety.
“A Basant committee, headed by Minister Law and Parliamentary Affairs Raja Basharat, has been constituted and will present its recommendations within a week.”
Among the committee members are Punjab inspector general, information secretary and representatives of civil society as well as media, the minister added.
Meanwhile, Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that Punjab chief minister and the provincial government deserve appreciation over its decision to lift the 13-year-long ban.
It is pertinent to note that Basant was banned in Punjab in both the tenures of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President and former provincial chief executive Shehbaz Sharif.
Basant – a kite festival is a seasonal celebration of the Punjab region to rejoice the start of spring season.
The festival was banned in 2005 after several incidents of kite flyers’ sharp glass and chemical coated strings slitting throats of citizens, including children. Negligence of safety rules and regulations also led to several deaths as a result of celebratory aerial gunfire and fatal falls from rooftops during the festival.
The Supreme Court subsequently ruled on a public interest petition and banned kite flying. It remained outlawed during both tenures of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shahbaz Sharif’s provincial government in Punjab.
The ban left the kite and string making industry in Punjab in disarray and destroyed related commercial activity including food and hotel occupancy worth billions.