PTI govt bans coverage of events in KP girls’ schools, chooses segregation over talent
The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) on October 29, 2018, placed a gag order on coverage of all events in girls’ schools on mainstream media as well as social media. As per the directive, a ban on any sort of coverage came along with a ban on the invitation of male guests as chief guests on school events.
KP Department of Elementary and Secondary Education directed that any events participated by girls in the province will not be allowed to be covered on print, electronic or social media. The gag order is one of the policies of the PTI government that not only questions their chantings of ‘Tabdeeli’ and “Naya Pakistan” but also their party’s ideology.
The order might not seem to be an issue but it says a lot more about a nation that claims to be progressing and growing under a ‘visionary’ leader. KP government, in the form of a ban on allowing male guests and coverage of events in girls’ schools, have actually enforced a form of censorship. Not only has it discouraged the media to cover events where young girls show and share their talents and achievements with the world but have also welcomed an extreme so-called Islamist culture that deprives young women of growing under the banner of segregation.
In the twenty-first century, where women are defying male chauvinism, striving and fighting for gender equality, the PTI government has come up with an order that pushes us years back in progressiveness and maturity. The order is no more than a reminder to our nation that women are lesser beings and shall be kept aloof of the outer world and its happenings because some Education Minister thinks he’s benefitting the society and setting an example of the province for being like the promised “riyasat of Madina”.
It is pertinent to understand that the use of religion for political popularity is a very common practice in Pakistan. PTI’s play of religious cards may leave a lingering impact in a province that has forever been troubled since 1947.
The question here is how will this bring about an impact?
First of all, the order limits and imposes a ban not only on the coverage of events in girls’ schools but their right of being treated equally as citizens of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Secondly, it deprives them of a platform that could have been a bridge between their talents and the outer world. It also discourages them of coming forward and stepping into competition with the opposite sex, on the basis of their gender rather than being taken as an individual, student or a competent person. Furthermore, it also limits their exposure of getting inspired by the dignitaries or officials they meet, because to be very honest, Pakistan and KP especially does not have women that can inspire young girls to be more than they think they can be.
Thirdly, it is outrightly creation of an issue that was not even an issue at all. Banning media coverage or invitation of male chief guests in schools is merely a way of creating a wall to confine women under the banner of ‘ghairat’.
The order is no less than a slap on the seeds of democracy, as PTI gradually instills the idea of extreme Islamist ideology of Mullah’s that are not so different than the Taliban Pakistan is fighting against. A simple gag order it may seem but in nature, it can be the very root that changes Pakistan’s social fabric in near future.
KP government should reconsider its ban that objectifies young girls as lesser beings rather than being taken as students. Not only does this contradict with their slogans of women empowerment and equality, but it also allows the dawn of a new culture of making your religious identity the only identity you wear and carry along with you. It also raises a divide and question over the rest of the provinces where no such imposition or ban will be implemented, then why a culture of conservatism is being promoted in KPK.
The author is an IR graduate and is an aspiring journalist.