The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has withdrawn a controversial order – instructing female students across the province to ‘cover-up’ to protect them from any ‘unethical incident’ – after widespread public criticism.
Chief Minister Mahmood Khan took notice of the order and directed the provincial education department to immediately withdraw the notification.
Minister for Health and Information Shaukat Yousafzai claimed that only one district had issued this notification at the will of the parents – and has now been instructed to withdraw the declaration.
“The veil is part of our religion but cannot be forced,” said the minister.
Earlier on Monday, Provincial Adviser on Education Ziaullah Bangash said the order was passed to stop female students from being harassed on their way to school.
Bangash said the directive would guarantee the safety of schoolgirls, adding that, “Donning a pardah has now been declared mandatory.”
This move came after the Haripur District Education Officer (DEO) Samina Altaf issued a notification directing female school principals and headmistresses to ensure that female students don conservative clothing.
Altaf’s notice had given schools and colleges a week to implement the new rules.
The DEO had told The Express Tribune that the decision was taken in light of Islamic principles.