Jun 11, 2008 - quirky    No Comments

Get married, or get fired

I know a lot of Pakistani men have a deep affection for all things Iran in general, and Mr Ahmedinijad in particular. I have traveled pretty extensively in Iran and quite like the country but it is not the egalitarian utopia that a lot of Pakistanis believe it to be. It is as flawed, if not more, a society as Pakistan is, and given a choice I would chose to live in Pakistan a million times over than in Iran. For one, we have much better food in Pakistan and for another Pakistani men do not pinch asses as frequently in bazaars as they do in Iran. But the most important thing is that there is something called civil liberty that still exist in Pakistan (at least in the urban centres) and state does not get to tell me what do I wear (the burqa clause), what do I study (Only a small percentage of people are allowed to study English in state universities), when can I leave the country (Irani men do not get passports unless they serve two years in army) and when do I get married. Yes, you got that right, the government is now interfering in that as well.

Some recent developments made me appreciate my country a little more, no matter how much we whine, we still have a lot more civil liberties that our neighbours on the west. According to AFP, a major Iranian state-owned company has told its single employees to get married by September or face losing their jobs.

“One of the economic entities in the south of the country has asked its single employees to start creating a family,” the hardline Kayhan daily reported.

The paper did not mention the name of the company but the reformist Etemad newspaper said that the firm is the Pars Special Economic Energy Zone Company — which covers Iran‘s giant gas and petrochemical facilities on the shores of the Gulf.

“Unfortunately some of our colleagues did not fulfill their commitments and are still single,” Etemad quoted the company’s directive as saying.

“As being married is one of the criteria of employment, we are announcing for the last time that all the female and male colleagues have until September 21 to go ahead with this important and moral religious duty.”

The country is in the midst of an unprecedented moral crackdown which has seen tens of thousands of women warned by the police for dress deemed to be unIslamic.

However officials have lamented the relatively low numbers marrying in recent years, a trend encouraged by a difficult economic situation where newly-weds struggle to pay for weddings, let alone buy a home.

In a similar warning, the governor of the eastern province of North Khorasan has said only married civil servants will be allowed to take up official posts in the region.

“Officials who are single must marry before being authorised to take up their posts,” the student ISNA news agency quoted Mohammad Hossein Jahanbakhsh as saying.

“A mayor can only take up their responsibilities in a town in the region if they are married,” he added.

What’s next, I ask. You cannot eat what you want; you cannot drink what you want; now you cannot even decide when you want to get married, if at all. What’s next, moral police entering the house and checking if you are sleeping in the prescribed way? I so thank my lucky stars that I do not live under Mehmood Ahmedinijad. No matter how flawed Musharraf-Gilani-Zardari combo is, they don’t get to determine when I marry, if I do marry at all.

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