It is Basant in Lahore after 4-long-years
Lahore: After the departure of the PML-N government led by Shahbaz Sharif in Pakistan''s Punjab province, the revival of the decades-old Basant festival does not seem to be a distant dream under the authority of caretaker Chief Minister Najam Sethi.
Less than a week after assuming charge, Sethi has asked authorities to frame an action plan about holding Basant, a kite flying festival, while prohibiting the use of glass-coated twine that cause deaths in the past.
The interim government is reportedly considering a proposal to observe the lively festival in the third week of April.
Basant was last observed in Lahore and other parts of Punjab, the country''s most populous province, in March 2009 when the region was under Governor''s Rule.
Former Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, whose government recently completed its five-year term, was opposed to reviving the cultural event because of deaths and injuries caused by the twine used to fly kites.
"If someone guarantee''s a casualty-free Basant, then I can consider celebrating the festival," Sharif used to say.
However, many analysts say the PML-N government banned Basant and cracked down on people making and selling kites due to pressure from hardline religious and extremist groups, which claimed the festival had "Hindu origins" and was "un-Islamic".
All Pakistan Paper Merchants Association vice-president Khwaja Nadeem Saeed welcomed the move to revive Basant, saying it would go a long way in highlighting the soft image of Pakistan.
He said if a decision is made to celebrate Basant, it will help cut the rate of unemployment in Punjab as thousands of people are directly or indirectly attached with the kite-making industry.
Saeed urged the caretaker Chief Minister to order the establishment of special "kite-flying zones" outside Lahore so that people can enjoy the activity throughout the year.
"Kite-making alone had been providing livelihood to more than 150,000 people in Lahore and its suburbs, and another 180,000 in Gujranwala and Kasur districts. Most of these artisans are now facing difficult times," he said.
"The move to revive Basant will not only strengthen the cottage industry but help (the country) earn much-needed foreign exchange by attracting tourists," Saeed said.