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Divide and educate: G-B lawmakers oppose co-education at KIU

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GILGIT: Lawmakers of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) criticised the co-education system in place at the Karakoram International University (KIU) during Tuesday’s assembly session, and termed it against the cultural and religious values of G-B.

HunzaNews, June 11th, 2014.

Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) lawmaker Mirza Hussain raised the issue, triggering a debate in the 36th G-B Assembly session chaired by Speaker Wazir Baig, and earning appreciation from his peers.

The lawmaker from Hunza-Nagar district said he had thought about raising the issue on the assembly floor many times in the past four years but could not do so. “It is neither ethically nor religiously permissible to us to allow young women to study with namehrams. In the recent past, unethical activities have been observed because of this,” said Hussain.

The Hunza-Nagar representative went on to offer a financial contribution for the construction of a separate KIU campus for women from the development funds allocated to him, if the government considers the option.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) Sarwar Shah appreciated Hussain’s stance and asked the house to move a joint resolution to disband co-education in the university. “This is a matter of our honour and that can’t be traded off for development,” said Shah.

Shah insisted development and obscenity are two different things and urged authorities to ensure women students are segregated from male students in the KIU campus.

Gul Meera, a lawmaker from Diamer Valley, dubbed co-education as the “biggest hurdle for women in attaining higher education in her constituency.” Meera, who rarely speaks in the assembly, said, “People don’t send their daughters to the university because of the co-education system.”

Gender divided house?

Pushing the matter up a notch, PML-Q’s Amina Ansari proposed a separate assembly for female lawmakers of G-B. “I recommend a separate assembly for women lawmakers, however, we cannot demand a similar set up for our daughters when they attend universities outside of G-B,” said Ansari.

Moreover, she demanded the government to set up separate KIU campuses for women in all seven districts of G-B to promote higher education.

Sultan Ali, a representative of Baltistan, endorsed Ansari’s views about an assembly for women legislators. “Aside from minor instances of terrorism, G-B is like heaven and we do not want to lose our values,” said Ali.

Nawaz Naji from Ghizer Valley termed the matter of segregation more cultural than religious and urged the government to respect the sentiments of the people.

Speaker Baig, while agreeing with the lawmakers, promised a briefing for the house from the vice chancellor (VC) of KIU to discuss whether separate campuses should be established for women in G-B. “There are financial issues to be considered while taking the step, but first we shall have a briefing from the VC to get a clearer picture,” said Baig.

The session will resume on June 13.

Express Tribune

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