Wearing of hijab is now mandatory for female students and teachers in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir (PoK)and individuals from the region are required to register as Pakistani citizens in the 2023 census, Asian Lite reported.
People living in the PoK are being forced against their will to accept measures instituted by Islamabad aimed at incorporating this territory into Pakistan. Various steps have been recently taken that signal these efforts, cites the report.
Making hijab a compulsory part of the uniform for girl students and women teachers and forcing people to register themselves as Pakistani citizens, under the 2023 census are the measures that reflect misplaced priorities in Pakistan when the country is on the verge of economic collapse.
Being forced to register themselves as Pakistani citizens is unprecedented as previous Census documents showed the PoK people as residents of Gilgit Baltistan. Their NADRA ID cards were “native of the former State of Jammu and Kashmir”. This practice has now been discontinued, according to the publication.
The compulsory hijab order was issued on March 6 by the Pakistan Education Department and it specifically targets co-education schools where girls and women teachers in rural areas have been merged with the boys’ schools since their numbers and school infrastructure do not match the requirements.
The Dawn newspaper reports that the order applies to all female students and teachers and requires coverage of all female heads in ten districts.
Officially, PoK has 92 per cent literacy among boys and 90 per cent among girls. The Gilgit Baltistan area supposedly tops it. But on the ground, it reflects the overall neglect and paucity of infrastructure that school education suffers in Pakistan, where girls are worse off compared to boys, Asian Lite reported.
The Global Citizen says, “Millions of Girls in Pakistan aren’t attending school” quoting Human Rights Watch (HRW). The British newspaper The Guardian also quotes from a survey which states that millions of girls are especially at risk, and HRW is calling on the government to step up for their futures.
Another step towards Talibanization in PoK is the extension of the work of the Rehmatul lil Alameen Authority. Set up in October 2021 by former Pak PM Imran Khan, the authority is to conduct research on the Prophet’s biography and hadith to build the character of the youth in Pakistan, Asian Lite reported.
Implementation of this Authority in PoK might lead to a blurring of the Shia and other religious/ethnic identities of the people of the region.
This step not only violates the UN Resolutions but also violates the human rights of the people of PoK who could be identified according to their ethnic or tribal identity.
On 1 March 2023, Pakistan rolled out its first digital population and housing census ahead of the Parliamentary elections in the middle of the year. Prior to this, Pakistan had deleted the term “native of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir” from the digital NADRA ID cards of the residents of PoK, Asian Lite reported.
Subsequently, the separate identity of PoK and local languages was excluded from the Census form.
Despite protests by the people of PoJK, the census authorities continue to register them as Pakistani citizens. This was not the case in previous years, Asian Lite reported.
The move to impose the hijab on women 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 Tweeted and criticised 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.
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 PoK.
“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. The plight of the people of PoK needs to be internationally highlighted, Asian Lite reported.
Clearly, Pakistan wants to gobble up illegally occupied territory in violation of the UN Resolutions of 1947 and 1948. General Zia ul Haq began the process of Islamization of this occupied territory and today, steps are being taken to erase the local linguistic and ethnic identity of the population. These need to be vigorously opposed.
The problem is that Pakistan is today on the verge of collapse and little attention is being paid to the people of PoK. This is the tragedy of the situation. (ANI)