I had been the non-political, liberal type, however things don’t remain same forever. Around a year back, I started observing ‘naqab’ and that simple piece of cloth brought about a major change in my life. Having done my O’Levels from The Mama Parsi Girls’ Secondary School in 2006 and A’Levels from St. Patrick’s High School in 2008, I joined Tabani’s School of Accountancy (TSA) since I aspired to become a Chartered Accountant some day.
It was at TSA that I was inspired by my teacher to reconsider my values and the path I was treading upon, that brought about a transformation. The labels of Ninja, Fundo, Taliban were not unheard of, though it did hurt but the response from my friends and family couldn’t stir my stand and I continued on the path I had chosen for myself.
I didn’t stop going to Cineplex because everyone would give me looks nor did I stop bowling at Arena even if I knew that I would turn back to face a crowd gathered behind me. However, I did quit these when I felt that I could use my time in a more productive fashion elsewhere. I didn’t take up Hijaab for people so I wouldn’t give it up for them either.
Nevertheless, I didn’t know that people had such strong reactions and opinions against Hijaab till I became a Hijaabi myself. Articleship is an essential part of C.A program, since without this we cannot appear for Modules E and F (C.A. final examination), so I also applied to various firms for induction in their trainee program.
At a very reputable firm, I was asked if I ‘always’ wear Naqab and when my answer was an affirmative I was frankly told that ‘this’ is a security concern for them and the partners would want to see my face during the interview. However, the lady refused to give this to me in writing that Naqab is prohibited in their firm. Similarly, the interviewer was shocked to see dramatics and sports in my application and kept shuffling through my certificates.
At another of the top 4 firms, the partner’s jaws dropped open when I told him that I would rather give up my profession than my faith. I had honestly answered that though people asked me to quit Hijaab for a while and continue later, I refused to cheat myself or others.
My application has been pending in these firms and I have neither received a call for acceptance or rejection. Even though I met the required result criteria but still my applications are being held up by the officials.
I had also secured third place at ICAP inter-R.A.E.T debate competition and also have public speaking experience.
My question is that how does following my beliefs make me a security concern? Where do advocates of freedom go when I am not allowed to freely practice my religion in this Islamic Republic Of Pakistan since that shows my inflexibility to cope with the requirements of firms? Why am I not allowed to be honest when ICAP claims to regulate the profession for creating an air of honesty and transparency? Isn’t this extremism to outcast a person and destroy the career of a student because of his or her attire?
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