Running away

Published: March 7, 2012

The marathon race organised by the government of Punjab as part of its sports festival in Lahore on March 4, included a shorter run for families, added on to the main 17-kilometre run. PHOTO: SHAHBAZ MALIK/EXPRESS

The marathon race organised by the government of Punjab as part of its sports festival in Lahore on March 4, included a shorter run for families, added on to the main 17-kilometre run. Even though the event was conducted peacefully, vociferous objections have been raised by clerics to women running in the family event. The Tahaffuz-i-Namoos-i-Risalat Mahaz (TNRM) saw it fit to conduct a special meeting to condemn the participation of women and stated it was ‘un-Islamic’ to bring them onto the streets for any purpose which was not religious. The organisation has warned it will stage a protest against the action by the Punjab government.

The situation is, of course, reminiscent of the furore created in the mid-2000s by the staging of mixed marathon races by obscurantist forces. The situation led to a showdown, with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan staging its own marathon after the government caved in under the protest action. The violent police action against the organisation’s leaders to stop them from running led, of course, to further controversy. Eventually though, the HRCP was allowed to run its own mixed race, under heavy police escort, even as religious groups voiced threats.

The whole situation is obviously a ludicrous one. There seems to be no reason at all why women running in a marathon should provoke so much anger. It would appear that in a country with as many problems as ours, the TNRM would be able to find other, more worthwhile issues to protest. We wonder what they make of acid attacks on women, the female infanticide that takes place and other crimes that violate both religious teachings and humanity. It is a tragedy that voices are seldomly raised against these issues, while events such as a friendly marathon have to be run under heavy police cover to ensure participants do not come under any kind of threat from forces which seem opposed to joy.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • asad zeeshan
    Mar 7, 2012 - 1:35AM

    Why do the maulvis think that islam is put in danger by women running a race?
    Why do women who are not ashamed of their gender or their bodies scare the religious fanatics so much?Recommend

  • Nisar Hussain
    Mar 7, 2012 - 8:32AM

    is it a Islamic Republic country?Recommend

  • vasan
    Mar 7, 2012 - 9:47AM

    This is sheer madness trying to wear religion all over the body which has resulted in objecting to women running the races. Did they object to Sania Mizra’s wedding to the pakistani cricketer?. Did they object to mixed doubles tennis matches ??


  • SharifL
    Mar 7, 2012 - 11:13AM

    A good editorial. I am surprised that nobody mentions that healthy exercise is a must for us humans and that should include women. A woman not allowed to is like giving them unhealthy medicine. I see Nearly two women every minute are subject to domestic violence. Each week, four women are killed by a partner or his relatives. To know that a woman – someone’s daughter, mother, sister – is regularly raped, beaten, threatened is heinous enough, but imagine these religious fanatics do not waste time to go on the streets to protest against such crimes and make noises if they get out of the dungeons and do the right thing for their health. If Mullahs are worried that they are stared by men, they should blame them and not women.


  • Mirza
    Mar 7, 2012 - 11:22AM

    This is yet another attempt by mullahs to attack and suppress the freedom of women in the country. What is the problem if our women go for a family outing? Mullahs are supposed to wage a jihad against all social injustices and evils of the society and promote equality among all not to deprive women of all their rights.


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