Pakistani women to lead annual march

Pakistani women to lead annual march Photo: Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty

Pakistani women are today due to lead the Aurat March in major cities all across the country.

The march, Pakistan’s version of the Women’s March, is set to coincide with International Women’s Day. The demonstration is particularly pertinent in a country that has consistently drawn criticism from human rights organizations regarding its treatment of women.

Religious clerics have pushed back against the march, and the country’s minister for religious affairs, Noor-al-Haq Qadri, has called instead for a Hijab Day. The minister cited the mistreatment of Muslim women in India at the hands of “Hindu extremists” backed by the Modi government as reason for Pakistani women to wear the hijab in solidarity with their Indian counterparts.

Expect that there will be more pushback towards the marches, both online and on the streets. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which forms the government, has joined hands with the opposition Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl in a rare move of unity to oppose the march. This may indicate, moving forward, that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government may continue to take a more conservative approach to women’s rights, including possible police action taken against the marches on the day of.

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