Man set on fire over lodging police complaint – 06 Mar 2023

Case registered in light of medical evidence

Three persons set a man on fire out of resentment over a petition filed by him for lodging a case against them.

The victim suffered severe burn injuries after the assailants sprinkled petrol on him and set him on fire. He was shifted to a hospital.

D Type Colony police launched a search for the suspects after registering a case against them.

The complainant, Muhammad Irfan, a resident of D Type Colony, stated that he had filed an application in the local police station and a writ petition in a court against the suspects, including Umar Farooq and Waheed Butt.

He alleged that the men nominated by him had caught him and dragged him to a yard after thrashing him, threw him on the ground, sprinkled petrol on him and set him on fire. He said he had suffered burns on his whole body.

The police registered a case under section 336B in light of medical evidence and launched a hunt for the suspected assailants.

Meanwhile, during an alleged robbery incident at a shop, the robbers injured a woman with the butt of their pistol and escaped, police said.

Tahir Mehmood, in his complaint, told the police that two alleged robbers barged into the grocery store of his son Owais and robbed him of Rs4,200 and a mobile phone.

Tahir told the police that his son caught one of the robbers. In the meantime, his wife, Rabia Bibi, ran after the other robber, caught him and raised an alarm to seek help from the nearby shopkeepers.

The complainant told the police that he, too, reached the store. He said that the alleged robbers managed to overpower his son and wife, grabbed the latter and struck her with a pistol butt.

Tahir told the police that the panicky robbers opened fire, but the bullets fortunately missed their targets.

The robbers ultimately fled. Police registered a case against the suspects under Section 394 of the PPC.

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Youth shot dead by ‘friend’ – 06 Mar 2023

LAHORE: A 20-year-old youth was shot dead by his friend in the limits of Sanda police on Sunday, following a minor issue. The accused identified as Faiz alias Chand called his friend Osama Tariq, 20, to his house in Chota Sanda and shot him to death. Police shifted the body to the morgue.

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Aurat March to get security cover – 06 Mar 2023

LAHORE: Information minister of the Punjab caretaker government Amir Mir has said that the government will provide security to the participants in the Aurat March on March 8 (Wednesday).

`Full security will be provided by the police to the participants in the Aurat March in Lahore on March 8. The safety of the women participating in the march will be ensured to avoid any untoward incident,` the minister said responding to a demand by the organisers of the march.

The participants, including women, civil society organisations, transgender community and NGOs working for women rights, of the march will go roundNasser Bagh, the venue of the event.

Lahore Deputy Commissioner Rafia Haider had disallowed holding of the march the other day citing general security concerns and fearing a clash of the participants with that of the Haya March being organised by the Jamaat-iIslami women wing on the same day.

The organisers had moved the Lahore High Court against the DC`s decision.

Mr Mir said the caretaker government believed in personal freedoms and it would not create any obstacles in the Aurat March.

He said orders have been issued to the authorities concerned to provide foolproof security for ensuring a peaceful conduct of the Aurat March.

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Minority students to have their own religious textbooks – 06 Mar 2023

ISLAMABAD: In a major development in the country`s history related to religious minorities, the National Curriculum Council (NCC) has issued no-objection certificates (NOCs) for publishing religious books for students of seven minority groups enrolled in educational institutions supervised by the federal government.

After the NOCs, the National Book Foundation (NBF) will publish the books. The NCC issued the NOCs for publishing books on Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Bahai, Zoroastrianism, Kalasha and Buddhism.

The country is going to celebrate 50 years of its constitution, which was approved in 1973. The constitutionguarantees full educational rights to minority students, but there were no proper books on their religions, instead they used to read books on ethics. The NCC issued six separate NOCs for publishing books for them.

One of the NOCs issued on March 3, available with Dawn, stated that consequent upon completion of the textbooks reviewed process and on the recommendations of the review committee NOC is issued.

`NOC/approval is hereby issued for publishing of the textbool(s by National Book Foundation Islamabad for use in the schools within the Islamabad Capital Territory and the ones under administrative control of federal government ministries/organisation across Pakistan subject to following conditions.

It said the textbooks covered all the standard learning outcome in accordance with the national curriculum for religious education 2022.

All the corrections pointed out by the reviewers have been incorporated in the textbooks.

`The NOC approval is valid till the new curriculum is approved. However,NBF will improve, update and revise any part or the whole textbooks based on the feedback from the field during implementation and submit improved version for the NOC/approval.

It said textbooks were free from all biases related to cultural, ethnic and linguistic differences of the people of Pakistan.

`In the textbooks, there is nothing against any religion, Pakistan and organs of the state. All the references of the holy books are authentic. All the maps used in the textbooks are approvedbySurveyofPakistan andthe NBF.

Before its large scale printing and supply to schools, it will be ensured that textbooks are free from any grammatical, punctuation errors and there is no violation of copyright laws in use of contents including illustration and tables in the development of these textbooks, the notification said, adding the NBF was requested to submit five copies of each book to NCC secretariat for its library and record.

It may be noted that the Ministry of Education notified the national curriculum for classes six to eight last year andsubsequently students started the new academic session in August with the new books. However, the ministry did not notify the curriculum for minority students.

When Dawn highlighted the matter in August, the ministry gave approval for it.

Sources in the education ministry said that the curriculum for religious minorities had been prepared by NCC after getting detailed input from all seven communities, who with consensus, agreed on the draft curriculum.

The sources said the government was likely to publish 35 bool(s (one each for the seven religious minorities) for classes one to five and 21 books for classes six to eight based on the number of enrolled students.

`Yes, NOCs have been issued for publishing books for the minority students.

We are very happy indeed. This is a great achievement of the education ministry, NCC and the government,` said an official of the education ministry.

He said the NBF will soon start publishing the boolcs and in the upcoming academic session the students of will be provided the books.

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SSP ordered to probe reports of female students` harassment at Salu – 06 Mar 2023

SUKKUR: The Sukkur circuit bench of the Sindh High Court has directed Khairpur SSP to probe allegations of sexual harassment of female students at the Shah Abdul Latif University and expressed shocl( atthe reportthat teachers have been hired for a paltry sum of Rs15,000 a month to teach students at the university.

The double bench comprising Justices Salahuddin Panhwar and Abdul Mubeen Lakho passed the orders the other day on petitions filed against dualjobs of an associate professor, irregularities in the appointment of substitute teachers and allegations of sexual harassment of female students at the university.

Justice Panhwar expressed shock when he learnt that teachers had been hired for as little Rs15,000 a month to teach higher studies at the university.

`Is it a university or a primary school?` he asked, adding that the issue ofhiring of100 teachers for a paltry salary constituted a criminal case.

He ordered the university`s vice chancellor to fill vacant posts as per conditions of the Higher Education Commission in a transparent manner.

The justices directed the Khairpur SSP to probe allegations of harassment of female students, establish an antiharassment cell at the entrance to the university and depute a female inspector tohead the cell.

They ordered the officer to ensure security of female students on their way to the university from their homes and hostels and directed that the Khairpur district and sessions judge should depute a female magistrate to pay visits to girls` hostels at the university to check if the female students were harassed. A quarterly report on the issue should be submitted to the court, they said.

The court authorised the female magistrate to direct police official concerned to take legal action, if she found any crime related to harassment of female students.

Justice Panhwar asked the vice chancellor as to how private teachers hired for just Rs15,000 a month could teach students at the university and noted that merit was neglected in the appointment. `Everyone acted as kings at the univer-sity,` he observed.

Salu vice chancellor Dr Khaleel Ahmed Ibupoto said that he too was opposed to the appointment of teachers for such paltry pay but it was in practice at other universities as well, including Sindh University.

The bench noted in its decision that around 90 teaching associates were appointed without placing advertisement in newspapers and they were drawing only Rs15,000 per month. They were delivering lectures to students of different categories as substitute lecturers, associate professors and professors as stopgap arrangement, it said.

The judges observed in the order that the practice was not permissible under the Universities Act nor the High Education Commission, hence the Salu vice chancellor would ensure that all vacant posts were filled through advertise-ment in a transparent manner.

Furthermore, screening test would be outsourced to an independent and reputable third party testing agency and the number of teaching associates would be gradually reduced within three months.

During the hearing Justice Panhwar suspended promotion of associate professor Tariq Hussain Bhatti and demoted him to the post of lecturer.

The bench ordered constitution of a committee to be headed by Ghulam Raza Bhatti, vice chancellor of Sheilch Ayaz University, Shikarpur and Khalil Ahmed Ibupoto, VC of Shah Abdul Latif University and Zahid Hussain Khund, VC of Arror University and a representative of HEC not below the rank of DG as members to decide the fate of the appointment and promotion of the petitioner and associate prof Tariq Hussain Bhatti.

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Terror fissures – 06 Mar 2023

The government’s going slow in its efforts to net the abettors and terror-financiers

A report from the US State Department has spelt out some obvious realities. It is a source of immediate concern for the statehood of Pakistan, and cannot be brushed aside as a ploy or a propaganda tool. The ‘2021 Country Reports on Terrorism’ goes on to specifically name the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for overtly and covertly plotting against the government of Pakistan, especially in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. It is making use of its underlying connections with other terror outfits, including Al Qaeda, IS-K, BLA and many others, to stir unrest. These findings are in need of being taken seriously, as the evolving ground realities too point out a dismal picture of law and order, since the insurgents had staged a comeback from Afghanistan, and are proactively implementing their nefarious agenda.

The report has spelt out that the TTP’s resolve is to establish its own version of Shariah. It also pointed out that the government of Pakistan had not so seriously went on to implement the 20-point National Action Plan, as devised in the backdrop of one of the most lethal attacks by the militants in 2014 on Army Public School in Peshawar. The government’s going slow in its efforts to net the abettors and terror-financiers, as was evident from the pressure it had been under the FATF grey-list regime for years, had emboldened the non-state actors.

It is a foregone conclusion that the resolve to nip the terror in the bud went weak with the passage of time, despite glorious sacrifices of the people and the armed forces who were made to pay with more than 70,000 lives in the war on terror. The incoming Taliban 2.0 in Afghanistan and the new wave of terrorism had literally undermined the successes that came our way.

Let’s start picking from where we had left. Rewrite a new terror policy in the spirit of NAP 2014 and the National Security Policy (2022-26), and galvanise all resources to browbeat terrorism, and reinvigorate a stable economic order. This is what the report points out that absence of economic incentives and development enables the disgruntled elements to make inroads.

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The reforms industry – 06 Mar 2023

In Pakistan since the coalition government has got some space, there is a whole reforms’ industry that has crept up. Some of this sentiment is quite genuine as Pakistan has been delaying structural reforms of its economy for a long time. However, the kind of narrative coming out on political reforms appears to be quite rhetorical.

Some propose replacing the existing parliamentary form of democracy with a presidential system, while others point out that there should be proportional representation instead of the present first-past-the-post system. Some also state that mainstream political parties are being run as fiefdoms and ‘monarchies’, and they should be organized along ideological lines. A few sensible suggestions are also made – like implementing a cap on campaign financing etc.

My counter-question to all those coming out of their nooks and corners with political reforms’ ideas is whether they have reviewed developments in our Subcontinent with an analytical mind? I am not suggesting to compare Pakistan with the West, China, Southeast Asia, Cuba or any developing countries in the world. I am merely suggesting viewing Pakistan in the comparative prism of India and Bangladesh – the other two countries in the Subcontinent, our very immediate and natural regional competitors.

India has turned into a Hindu majoritarian country where discrimination against minorities is being embedded in the very fabric of state and society; Pakistan too has suffered similar crises. The BJP’s divisive rule is largely being bankrolled by Big Business which is also the immediate beneficiaries of the regime. Yet, India’s foreign currency reserves were over $566 billion a few days ago according to Reuters. Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserves were over $28 billion in January 2023 according to CEIC Data. Compare it with Pakistan’s close to $4 billion foreign exchange reserves presently.

Both India and Bangladesh are parliamentary democracies with a first-past-the-post system, and both countries have high corruption. A lot of politicians in these two countries are facing court cases just like in Pakistan. So why does the parliamentary system work quite well for our natural regional partners, and not for us?

The quality of politicians is neither better nor worse all over the South Asian region. My message to the reforms’ lobby is that if you really want to turn things around in Pakistan, then stop coming up with lousy conjectures with every passing day and look at what it is that really puts the Pakistani state apart from India and Bangladesh. It is neither the presidential system nor proportional representation – and nor any of other half-baked reforms narrative being sprouted. The explanation lies elsewhere and be honest enough to sift wheat from chaff.

Pakistan’s history has shown that a performance-based parliamentary democracy system works best for the country. We are a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi- regional country. Whenever the country has drifted away from the parliamentary system either in terms of the presidential system or in other authoritarian forms, Pakistan had to pay a big political price for such deviations. So the parliamentary system is indeed the glue that holds the country together and it should not be questioned by anyone trying to undermine the country under the pretext of so-called ‘reforms’.

However, politicians also need to show performance and win elections on the basis of their performance. In the past, the PML-N did quite well in Punjab from 2008 to 2018 in terms of its service delivery. However, the PPP in Sindh is still considered a party that has not performed in service delivery in the province despite being in power from 2008 to present. Voters in rural Sindh have been voting for the PPP because they do not see an alternative to a Sindh-based national party other than the PPP, apart from other historical reasons. Yet, if the PPP continues to perform low on service delivery in Sindh, voters in Sindh will soon look elsewhere to someone who delivers for them.

As far as proportional representation is concerned, it is indeed a fair way to reflect voters’ preferences, and the power of smaller parties increases through this system. However, due to an increased role of smaller parties, proportional representation also institutes much more vulnerable coalitions as smaller parties can change their coalition preferences quite easily. In a country like Pakistan where we desperately need political stability – and need political governments and prime ministers to complete their terms – proportional representation may not work too well.

The other argument is that our political parties are being run as personal fiefdoms, dynasties, or ‘monarchies’ and whether it can be fixed by having parties organized along ideological lines. The PTI started as an ideological party in Pakistan pumped by the anti-corruption agenda, and it also proclaimed to be non-dynastic. But the party works as much a personal fiefdom and ‘monarchy’ as any other political party. It just shows that ‘ideology’ is a lousy explanation.

Political leaders have an overwhelming role in political parties due to structural reasons. Other countries went through capitalist transformation for hundreds of years and their structures are different; Pakistan is on a different structural trajectory. The BJP is no real comparison. It is also a populist party based on a cult following, despite some historical differences.

One good suggestion to come out of this political reforms’ narrative is to focus on the campaign finance cap to cut out the role of big money in hijacking the electoral process. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) already has campaign finance monitoring guidelines that are often not implemented during elections. One way to counter is to institute a demand side corrective mechanism.

The ECP should stop the executive from disbursing development funds to MNAs and MPAs through its election laws just as it used to be in the pre-1980s period in Pakistan. MNAs and MPAs should only be elected for legislation and executive oversight. All developmental work should be carried out by local governments in collaboration with the provincial and local government bureaucracy.

When MNAs and MPAs’ development funds discretion will be eliminated, the role of big money in the national and provincial assemblies’ elections will automatically decrease substantially.

Pakistan should follow the maxim ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. There is no need for a flurry of reforms’ lobby activities, at least for political reforms. Experts should only suggest changes that are meaningful and in accordance with the socio-political and economic structures of Pakistan and the Subcontinent; they must not go for rhetoric for the sake of popularity.

The writer is an Islamabad-based social scientist. She can be reached at:

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Investing in women – 06 Mar 2023

COULD there be a more heartbreaking tale than that of Shahida Raza? A former national hockey player forced to pursue illegal emigration, only to lose her life along with dozens of other refugees in the tragic boat crash off Italian shores last month.

Her story will resonate with most Pakistani women. She dared to dream and make the most of her talents but was stymied by the lack of opportunity. As a single mother without a job, she struggled with financial insecurity. Faced with her young child`s ill health, she had no social safety net to fall bacl( on. If these conditions won`t breed desperation, what will? Raza`s trajectory is an indictment of Pakistan`s sports ecosystem, its social welfare and healthcare systems, its economy with an incapacity to absorb labour and talent indeed, of the country itself. But it also highlights the reality that Pakistani women are direct participants in our dysfunctional society, not merely appendages to it. As such, the society must be reshaped to cater to their needs and aspirations.

The typical framing of women in Pakistani public discourse as daughters, sisters, wives and mothers implies that they are secondary the supporting cast hovering around men, who are the central characters on our sociopolitical stage. We pretend that women in their own right women such as Raza do not exist.

This oversight leads to the challenge that women, when they are considered, are perceived by both the state and society as inconvenient or problematic quite literally, a public order problem.

That explains why the Lahore deputy commissioner rejected permission for the Aurat March to proceed on International Women`s Day, citing concerns about `controversial` banners and the likelihood of these provoking clashes with those who privilege haya over gender inclusion and equality.

That also explains why the most robust state response to the horrific rape in an Islamabad park last month was a directive by Pemra banning any coverage of the incident.

These are just recent examples of what are daily, egregious attempts to erase women from our social fabric.

But women are not going away. And Pakistan only ignores them to its detriment.

At present, the main concern is potential economic collapse. The men running the economy have made a hash of it. In all their recent machinations, have they even considered the gains to be had from unleashing Pakistani women`s potential? In a recent article on `Empowering Women in Pakistan`s Economy`, Noorulain Naseem and Hadiga Sohail highlight that `despite making up 49 per cent of the totalpopulation, women have a remarkably low participation rate of only 21pc in the current workforce with only 25pc of women with a university degree working.` Naseem and Sohail argue that if the female labour force were to become equal to the male working population, Pakistan`s GDP could increase by 60pc by 2025. Let that number sink in for a minute.

But this labour force participation cannot be conjured out of nowhere. Pakistan needs to invest in its women before they can reinvest in the country. Sadly, our country currently ranks 145 out of 146 countries in the 2022 Global Gender Gap Index (only Afghanistan ranks worse). In Balochistan, Raza`s home province, the female literacy rate of 24pc is the lowest among all of Pakistan`s provinces and female labour force participation is a shockingly low 4.9pc.

In the `Health and Survival` sub index of the gender gap assessment, which considers access to healthcare, Pakistan ranks 143rd.

This is a doubly painful reality in a country where, according to a 2019 report, 85,000women have completed a medical degree but are not part of the medical system presumably due to cultural and societal constraints on women working.

If we cannot educate or employ ourwomen, or preserve their health, then both they and the country at large suffers.

Perhaps instead of banning women`s marches, our government should reflect this week on how they can better serve Pakistan`s female population. The theme of this year`s International Women`s Day is #EmbraceEquity. It is highlighting the distinction between gender equality which the World Economic Forum describes as the `end goal` and equity, which is the path you take to get there.

Embracing equity means recognising that different people and groups require different resources, support and opportunities in order to attain equal outcomes. For Pakistani women, that means gender-specific policies, including a concerted effort to improve educational, employment and health outcomes while recognising but not pandering to our misogynistic cultural context. This is essential to ensure that in future women like Raza believe they can thrive in our country rather than desperately seek salvation across perilous waters. m The writer is a political and integrity risk analyst.


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Elections, now – 06 Mar 2023

CRISIS is an overused term in Pakistan, but there is little else that can adequately describe the current state of affairs. A long-brewing crisis of the economy is now playing itself out in agonising detail. Inflation is at its highest in five decades,food and fuel costs are pushing thousands of working class households deeper into poverty, and the finance ministry`s gross mismanagement has translated a difficult global economic context into a catastrophic domestic one.

There is also a multipronged political crisis currently afflicting all major institutions. The National Assembly is dysfunctional for several reasons, most notably the existence of an unwieldy coalition in government and the absence of the largest political party, the PTI. In the face of PTI`s popularity, the military establishment is witnessing a severe curtailment of its ability to curate and bend political outcomes to its will. Instead of reflective withdrawal, it is responding with coercion. And the judiciary, while facing its usual crisis of external pressure and partisan expectations, now appears stricken with significant internal fracturing as well.

These crises have been in place for the better part of 10 months. The latest addition has been a crisis of the Constitution, ie, of the nature of the state itself. It was the sole outcome of an intransigent PDM government refusing to go for provincial elections, egged on further by a fractured judiciary. While legal analysts debated the finer points (and score line) of the Supreme Court`s ruling over an election date for the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, the ECP belatedly caved in and provided a time frame for the first week of May. The president has now announced April 30 as the poll date.

Nothing, however, changes the fact that any delay beyond the 90-day limit, for whatever reason, is a violation of the Constitution. And if a state does not have regular answers to the most basic of questions when do people choose their government, who gets to form it, and how do laws get made it opens the door to discretionary turmoil. Fifteen years into closing the chapter on the last martial law regime, the fact that such questions have not been conclusively resolved shows regression rather than progress.

There is no one solution to these multifacetedcrises. Each has its own underlying reasons and its own circumstances of origin. However, tackling these crises requires a longer-term horizon than the one currently available. That can only be achieved through a general election.

Some argue that an election does nothing to fix these multiple crises, and will in fact open up new problems. The most pressing crisis, the economic one, is unlikely to go away any time soon.

The country suffers from a systemic problem of an unproductive, rent-captured economy. The economic crisis is actually a crisis of how production and consumption are organised and the inequality of resources within society. An IMF agreement or a few billion from friendly coun-tries does nothing to resolve it.

But it is also clear that the kind of steps needed to fix these systemic issues requires a longer-term time horizon and some type of a political mandate. The current mismanagement has only made it worse. There is no guarantee that the next government will be able to fix it, but at least it allows the electorate to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the current mess. It tells whoever is in charge that the current state of affairs is untenable. Some manner of demonstrating pressure from below, regardless of how temporary it is, is better than nothing.

A general election would also go some way in fixing the crisis of the legislature. A functional parliament is a necessity. There are many areas of governance that require urgent legislative attention, none of which has been received in the past 10 months. Restoring the institution,allowing public representatives to engage in debate and deliberation, is also the first step towards reducing political polarisation. If one was being truly optimistic, they could argue that a restored National Assembly would help move politics away from street mobilisation and court cases towards something slightly more productive.

The crisis in the higher judiciary is mostly internal, but an election would at least take off some of the pressure of partisan expectations.

Right now, every decision and deliberation is seen from the perspective of which party it favours and what pressure must have been applied by whom. This is purely an outcome of the court stepping in (and being dragged into) political conflicts, and its past legacy of subservience to the establishment. The fracturing spilling out now needs to be resolved both internally, away from the political limelight, and through any legislative steps that are required.

The latter would once again need a functional, representative parliament.

There is one `crisis` that a free and fair general election will not fix. If anything it will make that `crisis` even more apparent. This is the `crisis` that the establishment faces as it sees that it cannot unilaterally bend political outcomes according to its preferences. The past few months have shown once again what growing popular support can do for a political party`s and its politicians` prospects, regardless of what the establishment`s own position may be.

Not for the first time in the past few years (though louder than in the recent past), large sections of the public are expressing deepseated dissatisfaction with the practice of selecting and de-selecting on a whim. There is also a greater recognition of the abuse of power that usually goes alongside such interference.

The necessity of an election is precisely because it will throw the public`s disenchantment with meddling in full display. It won`t turn Pakistan into a constitutionally secure state overnight. But any push in that direction and any rejection of closed-door, behind-the-scenes politicking is welcome. • The writer teaches politics and sociology at Lums.

Twitter: @umairjav

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Stand with the women – 06 Mar 2023

IN a perverse way, there is a silver lining to the moral panic that afflicts authorities and conservative segments of society alike every year in the run-up to Aurat March on March 8, International Women`s Day. For therein lies clear evidence of the hostility that exists in much of society to the notion of equal rights, even more so to women themselves reclaiming the public space to demand these rights and denounce patriarchy. And that is why women march, to push back against this hostility in a powerful demonstration of their collective voice the voice of women from all walks of life: working women, housewives, trans women, in purdah and otherwise. This year, the Lahore deputy commissioner has taken the lead in opposing this exercise of democratic rights.

She has refused permission for the Aurat March to be held in the city because of security concerns, `controversial` placards and banners supporting women`s rights, and the possibility of clashes with members of Jamaat-i-Islami`s `Haya March`.

As is their wont, the authorities are getting the wrong end of the stick, deliberately. It is their duty to provide protection to the marchers instead of preventing them from exercising their fundamental right to participate in a peaceful rally far more peaceful, it must be pointed out, than many of the hate-filled demonstrations that cause mayhem on the streets time and again with impunity. However, even though it is but one day in the year that the women in this country have to claim as their own, when they can participate with the rest of the world in the call for gender equality, Aurat March participants are met with threats of violence by the religious right each time. And there is deadly intent behind these words. Marchers have been manhandled, pelted with stones, even falsely accused of blasphemy with doctored photos and videos. Not only has no one been punished for putting the women`s lives at risk, but it is the targets of the conservative rage that have been castigated for `provocative` slogans, principal among them being the very reasonable right to agency over one`s body. What kind of twisted mindset considers it `unseemly` to demand a right that is violated every time a woman is sexually harassed, raped, or subjected to domestic violence? Over the past several years, despite strong resistance from religio-political parties and unelected pressure groups, parliament has passed several pro-women laws. However, a patriarchal mindset coupled with bureaucratic apathy ensures that implementation remains patchy. It is high time the people`s representatives put their money where their mouth is and stopped pandering to misogynistic elements. For starters, those trying to create obstacles to prevent Aurat March from taking place must be told in no uncertain terms that the government stands with the women.

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