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Government ‘moved’ against nuptial threat to female NGO staff

Javed Aziz Khan

PESHAWAR: The federal and provincial governments have been moved against a former lawmaker of Kohistan district for his threat to forcibly marry the female staff of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to local men if they entered the district.

“I talked to the Kohistan district administration. Officials told me that the former lawmaker, Maulana Abdul Haleem, has lost senses at the age of 92 and people don’t take his words seriously,” Bushra Gohar, MNA elected on the ticket of Awami National Party, told The News.

However, the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Hazara Range, Naeem Khan, didn’t respond when efforts were made by this scribe to seek his comments about the security measures taken by the police to provide security to the female NGO workers and thousands of girls going to schools in Kohistan.

Maulana Abdul Haleem, who was elected on the ticket of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) in the 2002 general elections, warned woman NGO workers last week to leave Kohistan or else they would be given in the nikah of locals.

He had also opposed education of females, saying, Islam doesn’t allow a woman to do a job after getting what he termed secular education.The Kohistan district has only one high school, 13 middle schools and 255 primary schools for girls. Having a population of 472,570 as per the 1998 census, Kohistan was given the status of a district in 1976.

Located on the Karakoram Highway in Hazara division on the boundary with Gilgit-Baltistan, Kohistan has poor literacy rate of 2.95 percent among women and below 20 percent among men.

The civil society organisations are concerned about the threats hurled by the former lawmaker. The End Violence against Women and Girls, an NGO, held a meeting in Peshawar on Wednesday and demanded action against the nonagenarian.

The people of Kohistan, however, are not bothered about the threat and they are continuing with their routine.“People are sending girls to schools in a district where literacy rate is very low. I talked to the district coordination officer and told him that people who use the mosque to threaten citizens’ security and spread intolerance should be dealt with sternly,” said Bushra Gohar, chairperson of the Standing Committee on Women’s Development and senior vice-president of the ANP.

The MNA said she had also talked to the prime minister’s advisor on human rights over the issue and asked him to take notice of the matter.“I also talked to the authorities of the provincial government and my party to take serious notice of the threat and take appropriate action against such self-serving individuals and groups who use their own version of religion to threaten life and wellbeing of citizens, mainly women and children,” she argued.

The News