The Cost of a National Holiday

Nusrat Bhutto, the wife/mother/mother-in-law/grandmother of our past/present/future rulers passed away in Dubai yesterday, and an unexpected national day of mourning with a national holiday was announced in Pakistan immediately by the ruling party. I am not really knowledgeable about her sacrifices for democracy in Pakistan but I am concerned about the impact that an unofficial holiday has on Pakistan, as thousands of lives were affected by this holiday, including mine. My son had an exam today and was up preparing for it till late night, while I had a meeting with the Abbottabad Commission in Islamabad in the morning, and had rescheduled my work routine around the trip to Islamabad. Both were postponed due to the holiday.

With all the free time on my hands today, I have been estimating the impact this holiday had on my country, and here is my guesstimate:

The official population of Pakistan is around 160,000,000 – assuming that ten percent of the population did not work today due to the holiday, that is 16,000,000 man-days of work.

If a person works for 250 days per year, that is 64000 man-years.

Assuming an average person’s professional career spans 80 years (though I think it is closer to 40), this translates to 800 life-times of lost work.

In other words, it would take 800 people their entire lifespans to make up for the work that was not done due to today’s holiday.

I hope my math is wrong, but I do believe that there are better ways to recognize a deceased person’s contributions to a country – ones that do not deprive the same country of 800 lifetimes of work.



  1. RF Dude says:

    That’s a LOT of hours. Even accounting for the odd tea or other break, it’s still a lot of time that could indeed be better spent to improve things.

    Still, think of the positive things that some of those people may have done with their Holiday. Spend time with the family, read a book, otherwise engage the world in a non-work-related way.

    There is a lot more to this place, this planet, than working. Granted, it was a questionable exercise in control but in this case it was a better thing that how such exercises usually works out.

    Be well, and please add your insight here from time-to-time. I know the “flash mob” has moved on to other distractions, but many of us became aware of you because of this, we heard you, and we understood – to some degree at least – what you are saying. Please continue, for us at least.

    There are many out here who really do want to hear what you say, and I thank you sincerely for saying it to me and others.


  2. R.F.Dude says:

    Sohaib-ji, please stop by and see us sometime at the website.

    We’re not into much of anything except sharing our human existence with each other. Mostly living in the USA, but some Angrez and a couple of Austrailians.

    We are from different social and cultural backgrounds, but all of us share the absolute wonder that we are here and sharing time and thoughts with each other.

    You are most welcome to come and observe – the site is open – and to say HI if you wish.

    I know you would fit, and be ever so welcome for who you are and not for Who You Are if you see the difference.

    Peace to you. Salaam. Khuda hafez.

  3. Arif Ali says:

    wow thanks for sharing its really an eye opener

  4. Matt Sheppard says:

    No, your math looks good.

    I think I heard about you last year – on NBC, I believe – but never looked you up until now. I’m writing a little essay on social/news/social news media – TV, Twitter, Facebook, blah blah blah blah blah. You’re in the intro; it’ll be grand.

    Judging by the number of comments to this post, things have calmed down a bit for you. Good. I’m glad. How’s the coffee shop coming along? I am a barista, myself, and love a little, privately owned espresso bar as much as the next guy (perhaps, a little more).

    Hey, man. Thanks for your online presence. You brought real humanity to an insane moment. Yeah, you’ve heard enough of that shit. Thanks anyway. If you’re ever in Spokane, Washington, stop by for a doppio.

  5. Sara says:

    Got married (Nikah)on 14 August, 2009. Celebrations of Independence 🙂