Islamabad, May 9 (ANI): Last week a conservative schoolteacher in Rawalpindi hailed a cab to get to work in the morning. She wore a gown and had covered her head with a 'dupatta'.
A few minutes into the journey the bearded taxi driver asked her if she was Muslim. She said she was. Then why she had not covered her head properly, he asked. She responded by explaining that she ordinarily wears a headscarf, but as she was running late that day she was unable to put it on.
Such hurry could invite punishment and result in her being dispatched to the hereafter soon, he retorted. At this point she began to shake with fear and tried to reach for her cell phone to seek help. He turned back and grabbed the cell phone.
As the taxi had almost reached the school campus, she insisted that she be let out. The driver obliged, but left her with a chilling message: if the female staff of the school failed to observe proper 'pardah' they would all be sent to God sooner rather than later.
According to an editorial in The News authored by lawyer Babar Sattar, this is no isolated event.
"Be it warnings delivered to the medical community in NWFP to wear shalwar qameez, or edicts issued to music shops and barbers, or threats communicated to schools, or reports regarding women being harassed in bazaars and public spaces more generally, there has been a surge in vigilante action being carried out by our self-styled moral police," he says.
He further goes on to say that the worst justification for the Nizam-e-Adl regulation comes from liberals within the ANP and the PPP claiming that this legislation doesn't set up a parallel system of justice, as it is merely procedural law adorned with Islamic nomenclature.
"The growing Talibanization of the mind is a real threat to our fundamental rights and liberties. Simply put it is bigotry, intolerance, obscurantism and coercion practiced in the name of religion," Sattar says
It feeds on (a) the fear of change being ushered in by modernity, (b) confusion about the role of religion in the society, and (c) the failure of the state to provide for the basic needs of citizens, including means of subsistence the absence of which renders people desperate and a balanced education without which they lack the tools to question and resist extreme intolerant ideas, he concludes. (ANI)