Karachi, June 26 (Reuters): Islamists who head the council running Pakistan’s largest city said today they had banned the unnecessary depiction of women in advertisements, calling the practice “obscene and vulgar”.
Naimatullah Khan, mayor of Karachi, said the council in the metropolis of 14 million passed the law this week and planned to implement it soon. “Our culture and values are different from the West,” he said. “We want to protect women’s honour. We don’t want to make women toys like they are in the West.”
Khan belongs to the hardline Jamaat-e-Islami party, which led a similar campaign in North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan in which youths smashed billboards depicting women. “It was on my initiative that the law was passed,” Khan said. “We plan to implement it soon. We will urge the people, advertisers, not to display obscene and vulgar billboards.”
Jamaat-e-Islami is the main component of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a six-party Islamic alliance that did unexpectedly well in October general elections on the back of opposition to the government’s backing for the US-led “war on terror”. Since gaining control of the North West Frontier in the polls, the MMA has passed a slew of hardline legislation and announced a return to the Shariat, or traditional Islamic law, leading critics to charge that it is trying to emulate the notorious Taliban regime overthrown in Afghanistan in 2001.
The decision by the city government is likely to trigger confrontation with the government of Sindh province of which Karachi is the capital.
Shoaib Bukhari, provincial minister for local government, said the Sindh administration would never allow the city government to destroy Karachi’s image. “It is foolish,” he said referring to the new law. “They find obscenity and vulgarity in everything. It is the problem of their sick mindset. We will protect advertisers under the law.”
Bukhari is a member of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a coalition partner of Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali.
Jamaat-e-Islami won local polls in Karachi in 2001 due to a boycott by the MQM, which normally dominates the city’s politics.