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September 18, 2019

A U-turn on Riyasat-e-Madina promise!

National

September 18, 2019

ISLAMABAD: After taking countless U-turns and defending itself during the last one year of its rule, the ruling PTI has now taken an extremely contentious and embarrassing U-turn on a matter directly relating to its commitment of making Pakistan an Islamic welfare state in line with the Muslims’ role model —Riyasat-e-Madina.

On Monday, the PTI-led KP government issued an order for mandatory Islamic dress code for schoolgirls. However, it was withdrawn in the evening following pressure from the media and a selected class of liberals.

While withdrawing the notification, which was every inch in line with the teachings of Islam, the PTI government spokesman sounded odd to announce that everybody was free to wear an attire of their choice and that the government would not interfere in this. Interestingly, what the spokesman said was not only a negation of Islamic teachings, but also a violation of what the constitution of Pakistan says.

Although most of PTI leaders, including the federal and provincial ministers, avoided talking on the subject, Dr Shireen Mazari was quick to appreciate the U-turn.

“Sanity prevails. Why should girls be penalised for boys’ misdemeanors? Punish them for targeting girls — cannot penalize our girls. Let us not revert to dictator Zia’s time,” she tweeted.

Islamic divine injunctions set dress code for women and give special emphasis on modesty (Haya) — both for men and women. Islam ordains women to cover themselves properly when they get out [of their homes] so that they are no harassed and hounded.

The KP government’s initial notification made it mandatory for the female students studying in government schools to cover themselves. The district education officer made it mandatory for the principals and headmistresses of government schools to make sure that female students, from secondary to higher level, wore an abaya, gown or chaddar in order to save themselves from possible harassment.

A section of the media and liberals launched a campaign against this order and termed it regressive and against the rights of girls.

Through selected media talk shows, biased programmers were aired to get the KP government’s order reversed. Religious scholars were not approached for their views on what Islam says about Pardah, while TV hosts and their choice participants were given a free hand to conclude on their own that Pardah was not mandatory.

Constitutional experts, who were known for their secular views, were invited to give their legal opinion on the KP government’s action, but they too conveniently ignored to refer to any Islamic provision of the Constitution. Thus it appeared to be a clear cut well-thought-out “agenda setting” to get the Islamic order of the KP government undone. The ruling PTI did not disappoint the anti-Pardah campaigners and immediately withdrew the notification.

Article 31(1) of the Constitution says, “Steps shall be taken to enable the Muslims of Pakistan, individually and collectively, to order their lives in accordance with the fundamental principles and basic concepts of Islam and to provide facilities whereby they may be enabled to understand the meaning of life according to the Holy Quran and the Sunnah.”

Even the Objective Resolution, which is part of the Constitution, assures, “Wherein the State shall exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people; Wherein the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated by Islam, shall be fully observed; Wherein the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah;……”

When this reporter contacted Ziaullah Bangash, Adviser to the KP chief minister on elementary and secondary education, on whose initiative the provincial government issued the Islamic dress code notification, sounded upset following the withdrawal of notification.

Although he avoided offering any comment, a source close to him said Bangash was considering quitting the cabinet in protest.

The source said Bangash had conveyed to the chief minister that the provincial government had succumbed to the pressure of one percent of the country’s liberals, whereas 99% of the population was appreciative of his decision [to promote Islamic dress code].

While there are some in the media trying to portray that majority of Pakistan was upset with the KP government’s order, US-based PEW in its 2014 survey had revealed that 98% Pakistanis wanted their women to observe Pardah (varying from full veil to headscarf) in public. Only 2% wanted to go out without covering their head.

While the PTI government was reversing its decision on the Islamic dress code, almost at the same time Aljazeera reported a latest survey which talks about how badly women are exploited in the West.

According to the report, millions of US women say their first sexual experience was rape. “New study finds one in 16 women says first sexual experience was forced or coerced in early teens,” it added.

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