Confusion ensued in the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday after a member from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) handed in a resolution and withdrew it within minutes.
The resolution had reportedly called for making the hijab mandatory for women at the college level all over Punjab.
According to media reports, PTI MPA Nabila Hakim Ali presented a resolution calling for mandatory hijab for women at the college level across the province, but then withdrew the resolution citing a ‘clerical error’.
Later a different copy of the resolution was submitted by Ali, which said that the hijab should not be made mandatory and that female students wearing the hijab should not be awarded any extra points either.
When asked for a comment, PTI’s Mian Mahmoodur Rashid said, “Nabila Hakim Ali acted on her own accord and did not discuss the move with the party.”
“The resolution did not come from PTI and Ali has been warned against presenting any further resolutions without party consent,” he reiterated.
On Tuesday, Punjab Higher Education Minister Syed Raza Ali Gilani government official had proposed making the hijab mandatory for female students enrolled in the province’s colleges.
“We are leaving our religion behind, we are forgetting our culture and ethics. Hence, I have made the hijab compulsory for our women and sisters in colleges,” Gilani had said.
The minister added that it was his duty to take the step, “as it is the duty of every Muslim”.
“I have also made a policy for it, if your attendance falls below 60pc then we will give 5pc attendance to those girls who wear a hijab,” added the higher education minister.
However, the Punjab government, through its spokesman, distanced itself from the education minister’s proposal saying that no such step was being taken.
Talking to Dawn after the controversial proposal faced an almost immediate backlash, Gilani had said, “The department has just given a proposal. It is the prerogative of the chief minister to accept it or not.”
He said a wrong impression had been created that 5pc grace marks would be awarded to a hijab-wearing girl.
“Some 80pc girl students are already wearing hijab in colleges,” he had added.
PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry had pointed out that the Punjab government was considering this proposal at a time when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was talking about moderation in the country.
“We are totally against this as it is discriminatory,” he added.
Law Minister Rana Sanaullah had said that the proposal to award grace attendance marks to college girls wearing hijab could be the education minister’s personal suggestion, but it had nothing to do with the Punjab government.
“The government is considering no such policy,” he said, adding in a lighter vein that Gilani should make his spiritual followers (mureeds) wear a hijab instead.