Reiterating its previous recommendation for separate systems of education for men and women, Pakistan’s top religious body has asked the government to abolish the co-education system within the minimum time period.
In its statement issued on Tuesday at the conclusion of its two-day meeting, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), which was formed in 1962 to advise parliament on the compatibility of laws with Sharia, said co-education was neither a requirement of society nor compatible with Islamic principles.
The council said only a limited time — that is necessary for change in syllabus and making of administrative arrangements — could be permitted to bring an end to the co-education system. “The government must establish two women universities as announced by the former president General Ziaul Haq,” it added.
The council also decreed that covering of face, hands or feet is not mandatory for women under Sharia law. However, the council advised women to follow ethics and have a careful attitude in society. It recommended women “cover up their body parts to avoid threats or mischief”. The CII made this judgment in reply to questions posed by the Islamabad-based Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA).
The CII also welcomed a recent Supreme Court judgment that ordered the government to implement Urdu as the official language. The CII also reminded the federal and provincial governments about one of its significant decisions regarding promotion of regional languages.
“While treating Urdu as the national and official language, the federal government should allow the provincial governments to adopt their languages as official languages. This particular part of the CII recommendations was made to the federal and provincial governments in 1989-99,” it said. The CII said that according to Article 251 (1) of the Constitution, Urdu is the national language and implementation on this constitutional provision is mandatory for the government.
“However, the national language should not allow to be turned as a rival means of communication for the provincial languages at any stage so that opportunity should be given to the provincial languages for their progress and development,” it demanded.
The CII also recommended that students appearing for competitive examinations should also be allowed to answer questions in Urdu.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2015.