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‘Observing a veil does not make a woman pious’


By By Aroosa Masroor


The operation at Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa was condemned by women activists who criticised the governmentís irresponsibility and late reaction to the issue. They felt that the government responded rather late on the occasion, which led to an increased resentment and also gave the students enough time to gather ammunition, as a consequence of which several innocent were injured.

Female politicians and human rights activists were unanimous on the fact that this “unacceptable enforcement of religion” could have been dealt more rationally and there was a callousness in the approach of the government which delineated a negative image of the country, across borders too.

Zohra Yusuf, Vice Chairperson Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, was of the opinion that the government should have reacted in January when the baton-wielding students of Jamia Hafsa and Lal Masjid took over a public childrenís library in January, in protest against the demolition of Amir Hamza Masjid. “The students were not armed at that time and if the government had launched an operation at that time, the situation could have been handled more easily than now,” she said.

MPA PPP Shazia Marri said, that the government should refrain from artificial solutions and that it should work through an electoral process to resolve issues such as this.

“Neither can the burqa-clad women promote Islam nor the social elite in their ërevealing outfitsí. What we need to adopt is a middle path and a moderation in our views. Hijab for every woman holds a different view and what the Quran actually talks of, is the hijab of the eyes,” believes Laila Haroon Sarfaraz, President All Pakistan Womenís Association.

She added that no one has the right to impose religious views. “One can preach, but not forcefully. This is totally unacceptable and not what Islam preaches. Also it is the decorum of the woman that matters. Observing a veil does not necessarily make her pious.”

The behaviour of the students and the kidnapping of several Chinese women was also condemned by Durdana Siddiqui from Jamaat-i-Islami (women wing). “This was a wrong way to tackle the issue, which should have been dealt through negotiations, because it leaves a bad impression of the country internationally.”

Advocate Zaib, legal aid adviser at Directorate of women development also felt that the Chinese nationals were disrespected by the Pakistanis and a rather sensible approach of dialogue should have been adopted.




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