Tuesday Dec 18, 2018
LAHORE: The Punjab provincial government has decided to lift a longstanding ban on Basant celebrations, announcing that the annual kite-flying festival would be held in the province in the second month of the coming year.
"This historical cultural festival of Lahore will be revived, and Inshallah we will celebrate Basant in the second week of February," Punjab Information Minister Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan told reporters on Tuesday.
The minister said Basant was an enormous economic activity that could promote tourism.
Chohan said that a Basant committee had been formed which would present its recommendations to the government next week. He reiterated that the celebrations should remain within the rules and regulations keeping in view the public safety.
Basant, a kite-flying seasonal festival of the Punjab region that has been celebrated for generations, is held in late January or early February and marks the start of spring season.
The festival was banned in 2005 after several incidents of kite flyers' sharp glass and chemical coated strings slitting throats of citizens, including children. Negligence of safety rules and regulations also led to several deaths as a result of celebratory aerial gunfire and fatal falls from rooftops during the festival.
The Supreme Court subsequently ruled on a public interest petition and banned kite flying. It remained outlawed during both tenures of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shahbaz Sharif's provincial government in Punjab.
The ban left the kite and string making industry in Punjab in disarray, and destroyed related commercial activity including food and hotel occupancy worth billions.