KARACHI: One of the three Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers in the 168-strong Sindh Assembly seriously objected to the alleged inclusion of dance classes in some private schools and wrote to the provincial education minister to take “appropriate action.”
Khurrum Sher Zaman from the Clifton constituency (PS-112) wrote a letter to the Sindh minister for education and literacy, Jam Mehtab Dahar, on Sept 21 in which he said he wanted to draw the minister’s attention to dance classes made “part of the curriculum in private schools”.
This move resulted in civil society raising objections and pointing out that ironically dance and music exemplify PTI’s festive rallies.
Dance teachers and activists also shockingly asked the lawmaker to inform them about the schools where dance classes had been introduced as they said as per their knowledge none of such schools were in Sindh.
“I feel strongly that dance classes should not be held in schools, as Pakistan is an Islamic republic and [dance] is against Islamic principles and teachings,” the lawmaker wrote.
The minister further went on to say: “I kindly request that you look into this matter and take appropriate action in accordance with Islamic principles and injunctions that are protected and advocated in our constitution.”
The PTI member said he looked forward to the minister’s “prompt and positive” response to that matter.
Sheema Kermani, who performs and teaches dance, expressed shock at the contents of the PTI lawmaker’s letter to the government.
She said she had thoroughly studied the religion and found no reference against dance.
“From Rumi to Shah Latif and beyond, we find everyone dances and their authority is unquestionable. I have found no reference in any sacred and religious textbook which goes against dance,” said Ms Kermani, while speaking to Dawn.
She said the problem was that schools were not teaching dance to children.
“Tell me which school has included dance in its curriculum. I don’t know about any. In fact, we want schools to teach dance to their children which they are not doing. Classical dance defines humanity; it is vulgar dance that should be banned.”
Ms Kermani said she and her colleagues were planning a campaign to convince schools to make dance a part of their curriculum.
“By the way,” she said, “the PTI lawmaker has gone against what his party is famously known for. Dance and music are integral part of their rallies.”
“What PTI wants to do here is equal to negating the liberal society. They hold dance festivals themselves but deny the same when it comes to the general public,” said Kashif Bajeer, a rights activist.
The PTI has been subject to heavy criticism by opponent rightwing parties, particularly during its months-long sit-ins in Islamabad, and music and dance enraged its political opponents in ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam-Fazl who openly criticized the PTI chief Imran Khan.
A petition against the party by an obscure group, Shuhada Foundation, for “obscenity and vulgarity” during their sit-ins had been dismissed by the Islamabad High Court two years ago.
Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2016