While Sindh has decided to celebrate today to commemorate Allama Iqbal’s significance to Pakistan, Punjab has decided to forgo the tradition for a long productive workday. However, would one more holiday in the year, especially one to honour the legacy of an intellectual giant, do the other provinces any harm?

Iqbal Day has been celebrated around in Pakistan on November 9 every year for decades. This will be the second year that government has not called for a holiday, the call for cancellation coming from Iqbal’s own home province. The public seems dismayed, and many private schools in Punjab have still taken the decision to announce a holiday. In fact, there are even reports that a disgruntled individual took matters in his own hands and fabricated a notice from the Interior Ministry declaring Iqbal Day as a holiday this year. The news spread like wildfire on social media and memes were made of the great poet pondering over the question, ‘will they, won’t they?’ Sources from the Interior Ministry have since then confirmed that no notifications from the ministry have been issued regarding the holiday.

The federal government is being seen as too quick to dismiss tradition. It would be wise to rethink this decision for next year or the controversy around this day. We already celebrate Eid on different days, and apart from religious holidays, secular and national days to celebrate are few and far between. This is a holiday that is cultural and holds almost universal appeal for Pakistani citizens. Such celebrations are important elements for nation-building, and for the younger generations, marking the day is a way to keep Iqbal’s intellectual legacy alive.