Mrs. Bushra Khan wore a full veil ( burqa ) at her husband Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony. This has caused some consternation and lifting of eyebrows, while others say it is a woman’s choice what she wears, and women should be given the freedom to decide whether to wear burqa or not.
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Today our subcontinent is passing through a transitional period in its history, from feudal to modern society.
The main problem in our subcontinent is massive poverty, huge unemployment, widespread malnutrition, almost total lack of health care and good education for our masses, etc. The main cause of this is the feudal mindset and feudal practices of most of our people. Hence to resolve our problems we must create a modern industrial society, and for that, we must develop rational and scientific thinking among our people. For this, we must destroy feudalism in all its forms, and for doing so we must not be too liberal.
To those who talk of freedom I say: too much freedom and democracy is also bad. For instance, a parent must not be given the freedom to send his/her child to a madrasa where his mind is crammed with religious bigotry but must be compelled to send the child to a modern secular school.
Freedom can be a double-edged weapon, it can do both good and bad. There should be freedom to spread rational, scientific ideas, but there should be no freedom to spread superstition or indulge in feudal practices.
I agree that women should be modestly dressed, but surely a sari or salwar kameez is a modest dress.
It is high time we stamp out feudal practices like the burqa, as Mustafa Kemal did in the 1920s, if we wish to progress.
By Justice Markandey Katju
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