Karachi: For the first time, the colourful religious Hindu festival Holi will be a public holiday in Pakistan's Sindh province, the government has announced.
In an unprecedented move, the provincial Sindh government issued a notification declaring March 24 as a public holiday.
Earlier only the minority Hindu community in Pakistan were given holiday to celebrate the "festival of colours."
"But this is the first time we have declared Holi as a public holiday throughout the province," said a spokesman for the Chief Minister House.
The announcement comes days after Pakistan's National Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution to take steps to declare Holi, Diwali and Easter as public holidays. Hindu lawmaker Ramesh Kumar Vankwani of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had moved the resolution.
The decision was hailed by many, including the Pakistani media, as an attempt to steer the country towards a "more moderate ideological direction."
The federal government, however, is yet to issue any notification to declare these festivals as public holidays.
Hindus make up around 2 per cent of Pakistan's 200 million population, and mostly live in the Sindh province. Christians account for 1.6 per cent.
Pakistan's religious minorities have long faced economic and social discrimination. But the ruling PML-N government has said it is committed to doing away with the economic and social discrimination that religious minorities face.
Holi, which marks the end of winter and the victory of good over evil, is celebrated across India and Nepal with people exchanging greetings, savouring food and carry forward the message of peace, friendship and love.