Peshawar, Oct 8 (IANS) Pakistanis expressed their anger on social media as pictures of an official distributing burqas to girl students of a secondary government school went viral, Pakistani media reports said.
A district counsellor in Cheena village purchased burqas worth Rs 90,000 from the government fund and distributed them to the school girls.
The official, Muzafar Shah, said he had bought the burqas at the request of parents who could not afford them as one of his final acts before stepping down from his four-year tenure.
“Around 90 per cent of the girls already wear burqas, so I thought these poor girls should have new burqas,” he said, adding that previously he had used the funds to buy the school a solar panel, build a washroom and purchase new furniture.
The two pictures which went viral on social media showing a classroom full of girls wearing the burqas and another showing them piled on a desk, swiftly ignited outrage on social media.
“Instead of focusing on improving quality of education, enforcing strict and exemplary punishments for harassing, abusing and raping,” tweeted one user.
Gulalai Ismail, a Pakistani women’s rights activist who fled the country recently for New York, cheered the outrage and tweeted, “I’m glad to see time is changing and now more & more people are standing up against objectification of women in the garb of protection.”
However, Shah said he did not understand the criticism.
“The people of the area are very happy with me… had I distributed jeans among the girls, the media and liberals would have praised me,” he said.
Provincial minister of education Zia Ullah Bangash said an inquiry has been launched in the matter, and stressed that the garment is not part of the school uniform. It is on the girls whether they want to wear the burqa or not.