Hijabs have been made mandatory for all female students and teachers at co-educational institutions in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK), a fresh circular issued by the PoK administration in this regard read, local media reported.
According to the notification, it will be mandatory for female students and teachers to wear Hijab in all co-educational institutions. It warned that if the instructions were violated, action would be taken against “the head of the institution”, Pakistan’s English daily Dawn reported.
Speaking to Dawn.com, PTI member and PoK minister for elementary and secondary education, Deewan Ali Khan Chughtai said that the decision was taken following “complaints by parents”. He told the Pakistani daily that due to resource constraints and fewer girl students, establishing separate institutions for boys and girls was impossible.
“We have done it exactly in observance of the injunctions of God and His Messenger… The women have been ordained to wear veils and men have been ordained to lower their gaze,” he told the media outlet.
The move by the Sardar Tanveer-led PTI government has been severely criticised by local journalists and activists who find it to be an attack on women’s rights. Others compared it to the Taliban decree in Afghanistan.
Senior journalist Mariana Baabar took to her Twitter handle to criticise the decision and stressed that women should be given a choice. The PoK government has "made it mandatory for female students and teachers to wear the hijab in mixed-gender educational institutions, a circular issued on Monday stated. #give women a choice #stop dictating to women and men," she said.
Murtaza Solangi, the executive editor of Nayadaur Media, tweeted, "First Afghan Taliban broke the ‘shackles of slavery’, as declared by Taliban Khan and now his great deputy" has "broken the shackles of slavery" in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. "The Toothless Dentist (Pak President Arif Alvi) who acts like an activist of the fascist party must answer how their govt is enforcing Taliban rule” in PoK, he went on to say.