The hijab is a religious symbol. Though nowhere is it mentioned in the Islamic scriptures, yet the hardliners continue to insist that the Hijab is a part of a mandatory dress for Muslim women. The French and the state of Belgium have banned the hijab. Muslim women in these countries have accepted this rule. Unfortunately many in Pakistan do not subscribe to such views and would like to make the hijab compulsory. Recently the Punjab minister for higher education Raza Gilani in an address to the divisional directors of the Lahore board announced that all college going girls in government colleges would be asked to wear the hijab.

He went on to add that those who wear the hijab will be granted 5% grace marks.

Hijab and girls students

Pakistan is dominated by the Mullah but many still do not want a return to the Sharia with all its manifestations. The Punjab government immediately contradicted the Education Minister and announced that there was no plan to enforce the dress code on Muslim girls attending college. Information secretary Raja Jahangir in a statement to the press announced: "No such summary has been received by the provincial cabinet from the Higher Education department". This has been reported by the Tribune. He went on add " that this was beyond his competence to make a policy decision without the government's approval".

Punjab is the cradle of Pakistan culture and the film industry is located in Lahore. The city has a long tradition of being a liberal center and Punjab university is among the top education centers in Asia. This intervention by the government was timely and set at rest the fears of many girl college students that they would be forced to wear the hijab.

Order withdrawn

The Punjab higher education minister has not reacted back, but he had issued a circular making the hijab compulsory along with a mention of 5% grace marks to girls who wear the head cover. This circular is now withdrawn. The chief minister of Punjab is the brother of the PM Nawaz Sharif and this action under his aegis is timely and nipped a possible ugly situation in the bud.