Islamabad: Pakistan has summoned India's Charge d'Affaires to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and conveyed the government's grave concern on the ban on Muslim girl students from wearing hijab in Karnataka.
The Foreign Office said in a statement late on Wednesday that the Indian diplomat was conveyed Pakistan's deep concern over alleged religious intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatisation and discrimination against Muslims in India.
It was emphasised that the Indian government must hold the perpetrators of harassment against women in Karnataka to account and take adequate measures to ensure the safety, security and well-being of Muslim women, the statement said.
The Foreign Office statement came after Pakistan's senior ministers waded into the ongoing hijab row in Karnataka on Wednesday, with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi saying that depriving Muslim girls of education is a grave violation of fundamental human rights.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Hussain said what was going on in India was worrying and emphasised that wearing hijab is a personal choice just as any other dress and citizens must be given free choice.
Reacting to the tweets of the Pakistani ministers, Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said in New Delhi on Wednesday that some people are giving "communal colour" to a decision on dress code and discipline of institutions as part of their "conspiracy to defame India's inclusive culture".
Naqvi also shot back saying Pakistan, which is a "jungle of crime and cruelty" for minorities, is preaching India on tolerance and secularism.
The reality is that the socio-educational-religious rights of minorities are being trampled brazenly in Pakistan, Naqvi told reporters in New Delhi.
Equal rights, dignity and prosperity of the minorities, including Muslims, is a part of India's commitment to tolerance, harmony and inclusivity, he asserted.
The hijab controversy first erupted in January at a government Pre-University College in Udupi, where six students who attended classes wearing headscarves in violation of the stipulated dress code were asked to leave the campus. It later spread to other parts of the state with Hindu students too responding by turning up in saffron shawls.