The government of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has reversed an order requiring female students to wear a burqa following a huge backlash. But some supporters want the veil imposed all over the country.
Authorities in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Haripur, another city in the conservative province, last week issued a directive to all government educational institutions mandating female students to wear an abaya, a body-shrouding garment that covers a woman’s body from head to toe.
Ziaullah Bangash, the education adviser for the region’s chief minister, said the decision was made to ensure the safety of female students following visits to several regional schools.
The notice triggered an outcry on social media, where the move was harshly criticized as a “cheap publicity feat,” oppressive and a reminder of the days when parts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province were ruled by the Pakistani Taliban.
Authorities withdrew the order following the backlash. But many conservative Pakistanis had favored the directive and criticized its withdrawal.