UCA News


Alarm over ‘resurgence of religious extremism’ in Pakistan

Rights activists say forcing schoolgirls to wear burqas is Talibanization at work

ucanews reporter, Karachi

ucanews reporter, Karachi

Updated: October 09, 2019 02:29 AM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Alarm over ‘resurgence of religious extremism’ in Pakistan

Schoolgirls in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa attend class wearing burqas handed out by the Justice Party. (Photo supplied)

Share this article :
Pakistan’s ruling Justice Party has come under fire for allegedly promoting Talibanization in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Muzaffar Shah, a leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), bought around 100 shuttlecock burqas and distributed them at a government-run girls' school in Mardan district in the northwestern province.

He said he had bought the garment for parents who could not afford it.

The move came just two weeks after the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government issued a circular making it compulsory for female students to wear the abaya (a full-length outer garment) and veil to prevent themselves from being harassed.

The controversial order sparked online outrage, prompting provincial authorities to hastily withdraw it within 24 hours.

A ‘restriction of women’s freedoms’

Pakistan’s independent rights group, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, denounced the government on Oct. 6, saying it was a deliberate attempt to promote Talibanization in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“We are perturbed by the resurgence of religious extremism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the form of the KP government’s distribution of burqas among female students,” the commission said after the biannual meeting.

“Such moves are blatant attempts to restrict women’s freedoms and a deliberate attempt to promote Talibanization.

“First of all, dress code is a personal choice and no one has the right to impose it,” tweeted Palwasha Abbas, a member of the left-wing Awami National Party.

“Secondly, the #Paroney [a traditional waistcoat] and sadaar [head covering] is a part of Pashtun culture, not the burqa — the education department should pay attention to improving the education structure, not this.”

Another Twitter user, Nasir Khattak, said: “When they distribute shuttlecock burqas among schoolgirls, not pens and books, you know what they really want: an intellectually malnourished society which sees woman as an object and which certainly cannot think.” 

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM


Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."