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Pakistan HEC's ban on Holi celebrations across educational institutes

2023 Jun 25, 8:18, Islamabad [Pakistan]

 The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan's ban on Holi celebrations across all educational institutes in the country sparked internet outrage and was later withdrawn, but the fact that remains unchanged is how tolerance and diversity are eroding in Pakistani culture, an editorial in The News International read.

As per the editorial, the fact that HEC lacks the ability to issue such notifications, particularly given how poorly higher education is managed in the nation, also reflects on the objectives of the bureaucrats in charge of running these institutions.

Soon after the announcement, the HEC started facing severe backlash, and therefore issued a clarification, accusing the public for misinterpreting its earlier notification, according to the News International.

It is a known fact and need not to be told that minority and disadvantaged communities are finding Pakistan to be an increasingly oppressive environment, the editorial of The News International read.

People often ponder why young people from Pakistan choose to go to liberal democracies. The fundamental problem with the South Asian nation is that it does not provide its citizens with much in the way of critical thinking or freedom of expression, in addition to its financial issues.

The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan notably banned Holi celebrations across all educational institutes, claiming that it had caused concern and disadvantageously affected the "country's image." The commission made the remarks in a letter, dated June 20.

The letter stated that higher education institutes had the "ultimate responsibility to polish and nurture the exuberance of youth into learned, mature, and responsible citizens -- ready to take on the reins of the country and play their role in nation building".

"Public and private sector HEIs across the country are consequently relied upon to groom our youth into compassionate, discerning and refined individuals able to walk through life avoiding obvious pitfalls," it added.

The HEC has stated that such activities portray a "complete disconnect" from the country's sociocultural values and are an erosion of the country's "Islamic identity".

However, a day later, after the controversial announcement was made, Pakistan Higher Education Commission (HEC) withdrew the letter expressing objections to the celebration of the Hindu festival of Holi at a university.

This came right after the HEC faced widespread criticism nationwide after its executive director, Shaista Sohail, issued a letter taking exception to the celebration of the festival in a university.

Salman Sufi, the head of the Prime Minister's Strategic Reforms Unit, clarified that Education Minister Rana Tanveer Hussain had instructed the HEC to retract its controversial letter.


Pakistan diversity erosion Shehbaz Sharif Islamabad Pakistan HEC Pakistan economy
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