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Authorities In Northwestern Pakistan Withdraw Dress-Code Order After Outcry


Two girls walk to school in Peshawar.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Following a nationwide outcry, authorities in Pakistan's northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have reversed orders making it compulsory for schoolgirls in two cities to wear garments covering their heads.

Prime Minister Imran Khan's ruling Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI) said in a tweet on September 17 that the provincial government had withdrawn the orders, adding that "people are free to choose what is good for them."

The previous day, district education officials in the provincial capital, Peshawar, issued a circular directing the heads of government girls schools to "instruct all students to wear the gown/chador to veil/conceal/cover up themselves in order to protect them from any unethical incident."

"The matter may be treated as most urgent and important," it added.

The district education department in the city of Haripur, another city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, had previously issued a similar directive.

And Ziaullah Bangash, an adviser to the province's chief minister, has said that the measure will be implemented throughout the province.

The moves sparked a backlash on social media, with activists condemning them as yet another curb on women's rights in a deeply conservative country.

"Putting the onus of harassment on victims. As if women who wear the hijab and abaya don't get harassed. Well done KP. Well done," Pakistani reporter Amber Rahim Shamsi wrote on Twitter.

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    RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

    Radio Mashaal was launched in January 2010 in order to counter a growing number of Islamic extremist radio stations in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the border with Afghanistan.

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