Punjab minister’s hijab proposal sets off furore

Published: March 15, 2017
Raza Ali Gilani suggests mandatory wearing of hijab for college girls; provincial govt rejects proposal. PHOTO: REUTERS

Raza Ali Gilani suggests mandatory wearing of hijab for college girls; provincial govt rejects proposal. PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE: A minister’s “proposal” making it mandatory for government college girls to wear a hijab and offering them “extra” marks for covering themselves up created an embarrassing situation for the Punjab government.

“Observance of hijab should be made mandatory for college girls,” Punjab Higher Education Minister Syed Raza Ali Gilani said while addressing divisional directors of the Lahore board on Tuesday.

He added that hijab-wearing students, who fail to fulfil the attendance requirement, would benefit from the education department’s decision, as five per cent grace marks would be accorded to them.

Punjab govt rubbishes reports of mandatory hijab at colleges in province

Besides, the minister also directed that morning assembly should be resumed in colleges and added that students should be sensitised about different Islamic concepts for character building.

The statement created a furore in the media and the Punjab government moved quickly to reject the minister’s assertion.

Information Secretary Raja Jahangir said: “No such summary has been received by the provincial cabinet from the Higher Education Department.”

He said the Minister could not make such rules on his own without getting the approval from the cabinet and added that it was “beyond his competence to make a policy decision without the government’s approval”.

According to a handout issued by the DGPR, which was later withdrawn, the minister said that observance of hijab be made necessary for college girls, adding that five per cent grace attendance should be accorded as consolation in case of any shortage in the minimum required attendance.

Moreover, some 721 colleges attached with the Higher Education Department in 36 districts of the province would be given sufficient resources for their necessary development works in the upcoming budget 2017-18.

“For that purpose, development proposals have already been solicited and new development budget would be designed in such a way to ensure necessary resources for best educational and research facilities.”

“We are committed to providing world-class education to the students as it’s the basis of knowledge economy,” the DGPR said.

The minister directed to initiate auction of rundown vehicles as well as submission of a summary for giving honoraria to hardworking staff.

He directed that 7,000 vacant teachers’ posts in the department should be rationalised to benefit students.

He asked to identify suitable pieces of land for the construction of buildings for colleges established in rented premises.

Similarly, divisional directors should also give priority to different schemes, including construction of boundary walls, provision of furniture and setting up of science and computer labs.

Hijab wearing Muslim woman abused in New Zealand

The minister further directed to update the record of officers and officials, and added that deputationists be recalled.

He sought the lists of officials on ex-Pakistan leave or those who have been illegally away from their duties for adoption of a proper strategy.

“Different colleges should launch their websites and keep them regularly updated along with the facility of one-window operation, so that issues of students can be solved amicably.”

“Our service delivery mechanism should be efficient and fast,” the minister said.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2017.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • BrainBro
    Mar 15, 2017 - 9:09AM

    Hijab should be forced, only if it becomes mandatory for the boys to wear a burqa to college.Recommend

  • kemosabe
    Mar 15, 2017 - 9:19AM

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, if Gilani is so keen he should wear one himself, it would be a big improvement.Recommend

  • Shahid
    Mar 15, 2017 - 11:52AM

    Time for ancient subjugating forces to be removed – its high time we got rid of the hijab and related arab culture!Recommend

  • Toti calling
    Mar 15, 2017 - 12:18PM

    Things are moving in the wrong direction. If nothing works, give less freedom to women. That is the motto of MLN. We want equal rights to women and not what they should or should not wear. They should be able to decide for themselves what they want to do with their lives. This minister should be made to resign. Recommend

  • PakPower
    Mar 15, 2017 - 1:20PM

    Being a Shia doesn’t mean that you should bring Iranian practices to your own country. Be Pakistani first.Recommend

  • Ahmar Khan
    Mar 15, 2017 - 9:12PM


    I think Hijab is more of an Arab cultural tradition than Iranian practice. Recommend

  • Hidden truth
    Mar 15, 2017 - 10:24PM

    We definitely know how to apply reverse gear. Hijab does not make you more pious. Recommend

  • Thorough Research, not Lazy Research needed
    Mar 15, 2017 - 10:31PM

    Thorough Research, not Lazy Research needed
    Hijab is a universal practice. The Catholic Christian nuns wear it. But if you go to Orthodox countries, such as Russia, you will see women wearing scarf inside the church and monastries. A proper research would also involve historical study of ancient Britian from the time of its founder Brutus well before the Romans. Perhaps, look at the history of mankind from the time of Noah.

    Burka might be an Indian practice. Niqab is not the same as Hijab.Recommend

  • bigsaf
    Mar 16, 2017 - 1:15AM

    Lots of sectarian prejudice and nationalist hypocrisy here. Most conservative Sunnis would support the ‘hijab’ in colleges, an Islamic concept, as well as an Arab custom or ‘Saudi practices’, being written off as ‘Iranian practices’ by you. It is after all the Islamic Republic of Pakistan or are you still confused about the nature of the state like everyone else? I doubt you’d ever question a majority Sunni Islamist lawmaker’s patriotism if he had introduced the topic (many of whom already shaped the country’s religious nature), the same way you targeted this minority one. Recommend

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