WEB DESK: Imran Khan must differ with Nawaz Sharif government on any issue and every issue. So, his party-run Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province observed the Iqbal Day, on November 9, as a public holiday, unlike the federal and other three provincial governments who, in compliance with a notification of the interior ministry, did not.
“While I disapprove of too many holidays, Iqbal Day is different from other days. Iqbal’s thought embodies the ideology of Pakistan,” said he in justification of his decision. If he has more respect for the thoughts of Allama Iqbal than others, one would like to disagree.
The others, too, hold the poet-philosopher in great esteem. However on the issue of holidays they must be having a different perspective from Imran Khan’s. The realisation must have caught up with the federal government that in Pakistan we have too many holidays, in fact most of the year we are on holiday. It may be a national day, public holiday or local holiday to commemorate a local event or folk festival specific to a certain saint or event in the past.
Then there are 104-plus Saturdays and Sundays when the government goes out of business, and so do all others in the private sector aligned to the government working. Then, sometimes the holiday stints get extended by taking in the day that falls between the declared holidays and the weekly days off. There have been holiday spells when these extended one full week, paralysing the day-to-day life.
Nearly half of the year the government offices remain closed, which means as many man-days are lost. This is a huge cost the country pays for excessive resort to going on holiday furloughs on or the other pretext – one man-day lost – because of a public holiday or strike called by a political party – means loss of about Rs 80 billion to the Gross Domestic Product. Let alone many other problems last year the country lost exports worth around 356 million dollars just because of extended holiday spells.
Someone in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa may say ideology is more critical to the national solidarity and people’s well-being than exports. Maybe so, but how about strengthening the national solidarity by keeping the doors of the government open and working harder instead of lazing around and doing nothing on a holiday.
On this past Iqbal Day, Shahbaz Sharif kept his government’s doors open, and so did Syed Qaim Ali Shah and Dr Malik Baloch.
Can anybody in his right mind say they are less patriotic than Imran Khan whose entire politics is nothing but reaction and rejection of PML (N) leadership? Is it that they have no love for the national poet? Perhaps, the PTI government should be working harder to match up with what Shahbaz Sharif is doing in Punjab, especially these days when a large swath of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has suffered extensive earthquake damage.
Keeping the government closed on Monday means extending the weekend off by one more day when every minute is critical to the lives of thousands who are no left with a roof over their heads.
Maybe, Imran Khan is right in doing just the opposite of what the federal government does, yet he owes it to the people and the country that his government should be working even others are asleep by reducing the number of public holidays.
Given the twin-menace of terrorism and energy shortages we as country are enormously an under- performing polity. Our productivity is much less than global average and our bureaucracy is much more indolent than of others.
One wonders if Imran Khan’s order for holiday on Iqbal Day pleased other than the government employees.