The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has expressed concern about a university’s celebration of Holi, a Hindu religious festival celebrated in the spring, and has directed higher education institutions to “distance themselves” from activities “incompatible with the country’s identity and societal values.”
In a statement released on Tuesday, the commission mentioned one such “widely reported” and “publicised” event involving the enthusiasm displayed in celebrating Holi from the platform of a university, adding that it had “caused concern and has disadvantageously affected the country’s image.”
The decision comes in the wake of Holi celebrations at the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) in Islamabad, which sparked debate on social media, with some applauding the display of variety and others denouncing the organizers for violating Islamic norms.
Holi celebrations took place earlier this month, and a large number of students participated. A video of students celebrating the event was posted on Quaid-i-Azam University’s Twitter account.
In view of the much-discussed celebrations, the commission has decided to limit such activities in order to protect the nation’s philosophy, which states that HEIs have the ultimate responsibility to polish and develop youth enthusiasm into knowledgeable, mature, and responsible individuals.
“With this in mind, it is advised that the HEIs should prudently distance themselves from all such activities that are obviously incompatible with the country’s identity and societal values, while also ensuring that they rigorously engage their students and faculty in academic pursuits, intellectual debates, and cognitive learning, as well as identifying, creating, and fostering avenues for extra-curricular activities and rational discourse,” according to a notification issued by HEC.
The commission stated in its notification, “Unfortunately, it is sad to witness activities that portray a complete disconnect from our sociocultural values and an erosion of the country’s Islamic identity.”
“While there is no denying that cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity leads to an inclusive and tolerant society that profoundly respects all faiths and creeds; however, this must be done in a measured manner without going overboard,” it stated.
HEC warned universities to “warn students about the self-serving vested interests who use them for their own ends far from the altruistic critical thinking paradigm.”