The smoggy sky will remain colourless this year as well, as the Punjab government has made its mind not to celebrate the Basant festival. It is unfortunate that even arranging a celebration like Basant is proving an arduous task for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). How can one have faith in the ruling party, then, when it comes to much bigger issues in hand if a cultural event like Basant is becoming Achilles’ heel for the Punjab government? But no, it is not a question of the government’s capacity. The question here is about the government’s priorities. It seems that the government has little concern for culture or for that matter revival of banned festivals or preservation of corroding cultural symbols and activities.

From the very start, after the provincial government made a statement in favour of reviving the long-forgotten event of Basant, the behaviour of the authorities was lacklustre in this regard. And now the statements of different provincial ministers suggest that the committee formed to deal with the externalities of the event has yet to come up with a solution - which means that the previous announcements of celebrating the kite flying festival this year were merely a publicity stunt. The committee has done nothing so far to ensure that the festival goes without causing any damage to life and properties of ordinary people. The inaction of the provincial authorities in this regard shows the government’s insincerity.

The question that the provincial government needs to answer is why does it make such announcements when it cannot meet the timeline and preparations that such events demand? One should always think before speaking is a token of advice that the provincial authorities should stick to. Going against the invaluable wisdom of the adage aforementioned brings just embarrassment to anyone who responds to emotions rather than reason.

Granted, holding Basant needs proper management and preparations on the part of the government. But then why announce holding it without doing any of that preparation in the first place. Furthermore, some nuisance is a by-product of every other cultural or religious festival. The government cannot make the festival fool-proof, and if that is its criteria for holding it then we might as well say goodbye to the event permanently

The Punjab government has said that it will make all the preparations by next year’s spring. While one dares to hope that it will, the way it has handled the current issue inspires little confidence.