Kashmir: G-B govt cancels Women’s Sports Gala, announces Meena Bazar instead

POK - Pakistan Occupied Kashmir

The provincial government of Gilgit-Baltistan has changed the upcoming ‘Women’s Sports Gala 2022’ to ‘Women’s Meena Bazaar’ on the directives of the chief minister of Gilgit Baltistan (G-B), the Chief Secretary’s Office announced on Wednesday.

Less than a week ago, the Chief Secretary’s Office had announced that “daughters” all over the region were preparing with great “excitement” for the upcoming sports event.

However, in the tweet, the G-B government was seen having a change of heart over its plans, as it announced that “the program will be conducted in accordance with Islamic values and local customs”.

According to the tweet, the event will now “include awareness activities, a showcase of projects, exhibition of handicrafts and jewellery and other achievements of women entrepreneurs” as well as “guidance and counselling on environmental and climate change issues” and “educational activities”.

The three-part tweet also asserted that the changed agenda of the program would not be a departure from tradition.

However, the news was not well-received by activists and progressive collectives that expressed concern over the development.

National Women Front G-B, a progressive women’s collective from the region dubbed the government’s decision a matter of “shame”, adding that the women had been “wrong in trusting the state” as it called for a boycott of the “fear-driven” shift in the plan.

Claims surfaced on social media that the change in the program’s agenda was in fact the backdrop of protests held in Gilgit where some religious clergy had termed the event “unIslamic”.

Another activist and columnist affiliated with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in G-B said that the government had “surrendered before the pressure built by the local clergy” and lamented the state of women’s rights.

Noorena Shams, a Pakistani sportsperson, in a tweet also condemned the move saying that “Meena bazaar and business fests happen every year. All you [the government] have done is that you let the narrow-minded win and your daughters lose.”__Tribune.com