LAHORE - Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri, leading jurist SM Zafar, analyst Qayyum Nizami and other scholars have criticised the government for canceling Iqbal Day holiday.

They in their speeches at separate forums termed the PML-N government step to cancel the holiday as a move to divide the nation.

Iqbal Day (November 9) has been observed as national holiday for years in Pakistan to pay tribute to national poet and great thinker Allama Iqbal.

The interior ministry a couple of days back through a notification cancelled the November 9 holiday across the country. The Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan governments following the central government decision changed the holiday as routine working day in their provinces but the PTI-led KP government is observing it as national holiday. There is already a furious campaign against the PML-N government decision regarding Iqbal Day on social media sites in Pakistan. Some twitterties even termed the government as traitor for taking the “controversial” step.

Dr Iqbal – a close friend of the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah—was a great inspiration to Pakistan Movement. He enjoys great respect not only in Pakistan but in Iran and other Muslim World. Scholars say the Iqbal Day is not a routine day but has vital significance for Pakistan.

A PAT statement issued from here yesterday quoting Dr Qadri said: “Illegible rulers divided the nation over uncontroversial Iqbal Day.” He added that the revolution could be brought in Pakistan if the youth started following Iqbal’s lesson.

Pakistan Visionary Forum organized a sitting on “Pakistan’s Current Situation” at Tech Society Club which was addressed by top experts of their fields like Senator SM Zafar, Qayyum Nizami, Dr Muhammad Sadiq and professors and engineers.

They, addressing the sitting, said that hidden forces were busy in weakening the spirit of the ideology of Pakistan and this was evident by not allowing the holiday on Iqbal Day as well as reducing contents on Iqbal in educational curriculum. They called the government for strengthening the ideology of Pakistan rather to indulge in controversial decisions. They also asked for the enforcement of Urdu as an official language as per verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The speakers further said local bodies elections must be made useful for the benefit of common man.

Despite canceling of the holiday, various segment of the society are arranging seminars, conferences and talk shows on Monday (today) to remember the services of Dr Iqbal for Pakistan and Muslims.

A PAT delegation will laid floral wreath on Dr Iqbal mausoleum during morning. Quran Khawani, Iqbal’s Poetry competitions will be held in various cities.

The Nazaria-i-Pakistan Trust is holding a special sitting at 10:30 am today (Monday) on the 138th birth anniversary of Allama Muhammad Iqbal at the Aiwan-i-Karkunan-i-Tehreek-i-Pakistan. Nazaria-i-Pakistan Trust Chairman Rafique Tarar will chair while Punjab Governor Muhammad Rafique Rajwana will address as the guest of honour. Eminent intellectuals and Iqbalian experts will address the function. At 3 pm a visit will be paid to the shrine of Allama Muhammad Iqbal, wreaths of flowers will be laid and “Fatiha” will be offered. This series of celebrations is being held in collaboration with the Pakistan Movement Workers Trust.

Another sitting is being organized at Aiwan-e-Iqbal which will be addressed by Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq, Information Minister Pervez Rasheed and others.