KARACHI: On Wednesday, the Sindh government announced a three-day mourning period and a holIday for Thursday as a mark of respect for Shah Mardan Shah II, the seventh Pir Pagara, who died in a London hospital on Tuesday.
Regardless of what one may think of his politics, the late Pir was an influential politician of national repute. But it would not be wrong to ask if declaring a holiday is the best way to observe the occasion. The Sindh government seems to have a particular penchant for declaring days off, considering the fact that while we are only in the second week of the new year, the day off for Pir Pagara will be the second holiday announced by the provincial government (along with Shah Latif`s urs on Jan 9) in 2012.
This, along with past precedent, seems to indicate that productivity is not too high on the government`sagenda, while taking days off most certainly is.
Holidays in Sindh are declared on the slightest of grounds, including cricket matches. Yet instead of closing down all provincial business on the birth or death anniversaries ofmajor figures or other such occasions, wouldn`t it be a better idea tohighlight the life of the person in question instead of giving people the day off to snooze? As it is, officialdom is not known for its efficiency or enviable work ethics. Every time there is a holiday announced, the business of the state comes to a standstill. Then there is the confusion that goes with a hollday announcement. Given the arbitrary nature of many holiday announcements, many do not come .... till the middle of the day or even after the working day has ended.This creates great confusion amongst the masses. Schedules have to be readjusted while important tasks have to be put off. Will banks be open (they do if it`s not a federal holiday)? How about schools? Will I have to show up to work in the morn-ing (ask your employer)? These are all valid questions people askeach other when a holiday is suddenly announced.
The effect of so many holidays on education is particularly acute. For example, apart from scheduled holidays, suddenly announced days off make short work of the academic calendar. Also, it should be remembered that a city like Karachi is no stranger to violence. Whenever there is ethnic, sectarian or political strife in the metropolis, the whole city including educational institutions shuts down. Then we mustfactor in the closures due to inclement weather, such as flooding.
For those of us who have to work on holidays journalists, essential services workers, etc. there is little to look forward to, except for maybe the fact that traffic on the way to work is likely to be thinner than usual in the morning. As for the rest of Sindh, the day will be spent playing cricket on the roads, killing time at home or staying in bed.
Holidays are great fun, but it seems that we in Sindh enjoy too many of them. Perhaps it is too much to expect the government to practise and preach the lesson that we as a nation must gird up our loins, pull up our sleeves and work hard to improve our lot. It`s as if the government seeks to promote a culture of shirking work and taking it easy. Who needs hard work or perseverance? We want a holiday!