Over the past few years, the Islami Jamiat Talibat (IJT) – the female student wing of the religious-political organization Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan – has led a public campaign to purge Pakistani society of "obscenity" and Western influences in order to safeguard Islamic culture and values. Addressing a gathering of female students in Lahore in February 2011, Jamaat-e-Islami chief Syed Munawwar Hasan remarked that the Western powers are "bent upon destroying Islamic values and the Muslim family system, and the nation must unite to frustrate their designs."
Stressing that the female students can play an effective role in safeguarding Pakistan's Islamic identity, the Jamaat-e-Islami chief stated that "nudity and obscenity are being promoted in the country [Pakistan] and Islamic symbols are being ridiculed in a bid to build up a so-called liberal society." He added, "The lovers of Islam must join hands against this." Syed Munawwar Hasan's statement sums up the ideology of the IJT, or of its parent organization Jamaat-e-Islami.
To further advance the message against "nudity and obscenity" in Pakistani society, the IJT has held meetings, study circles, seminars and other public events in recent years. Its primary objective seems to be to purge Pakistani culture of influences it deems anti-Islamic. As part of this cultural agenda, the group has called on Pakistani television channels to stop broadcasting programs that do not comply with the Islamic code. In March 2011, IJT leader Lubna Hashmat urged the country's female students to raise their voices in protest against the "vulgar" shows being aired by Pakistani television channels.
Pakistani Magazine: The IJT "Has Been Accused of Misuse of University Resources, Moral Policing, and Beating up Students and Teachers"
The IJT has played an effective role in student union elections on university and college campuses across Pakistan. It also enjoys support from the government, especially in Punjab province, to further its objectives.
In November 2011, the IJT sought to organize a political meeting on the campus of Punjab University in Lahore, but the authorities would not permit it. Shortly thereafter, however, the provincial government, headed by Shahbaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party, got the police to help organize the event. A Lahore-based Pakistani magazine wrote: "Punjab University had not allowed Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) to hold a political meeting on the campus…. The group has been accused of misuse of university resources, moral policing, and beating up students and teachers who resist. Vice Chancellor Mujahid Kamran and senior teachers on the university's core committee had asked Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif not to allow the event, which they said would harm the university's peaceful academic environment. But the Punjab government brokered a deal between the IJT and the local police.
"The IJT, which is a student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, promised it would not use the university's buildings or utilities. But it did not keep its promise.
"Now, the group wants to get rid of the vice chancellor and replace him with someone who would support them. Their likely candidate, a source in the university says, is a physics department teacher who was in the middle of one of Pakistan's worst plagiarism scandals.
"The IJT has significant political influence because many of the key members of the PML-N government in Punjab were IJT members when they were at university. Jamaat-e-Islami and the PML-N have even been in electoral alliance in the past….
"IJT's influence in the university suffered a serious blow from a series of protests by thousands of university students in 2007, but have since had a resurgence. Dr. Mujahid Kamran's administration has been trying to resist this resurgence, and has stood up for the students, security guards, office staff, and even teachers who have been beaten or harassed by IJT operatives…."
Jamaat-e-Islami Leader: "Without Modesty, A Person's Faith Is Halved and Belief Cannot Be Complete Without It"
Former Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed
In a November 11, 2011 article titled "The Female Students' Campaign Against Shamelessness," former Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed called for public support for the IJT members' moral campaign. The following are excerpts from an article he wrote, as translated from Urdu:
"The Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) has said: 'Modesty is half of the faith,' meaning that without modesty, a person's faith is halved, and belief cannot be complete without it. The holy Prophet (peace be upon him) says, 'When you are bereft of modesty, then do whatever you want' – meaning that without modesty, man is freed of all internal obstacles [to keep him away from sin].
"An immodest person is unashamed of any sin or immoral act. He is shameless and becomes involved in immoral practices without any fear or hesitation. He neither cares what people say about him nor has any feeling of accountability to Allah the Almighty. This is why the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said: 'Every religion has its own moral identity, and modesty is the ethical identity of Islam.'
"In a beautiful poem, [Pakistan's Islamist national poet] Allama Iqbal (may Allah bless him) called rulers who build the edifice of their luxuries through the hard-earned money of the poor immodest. He said:
"'An experienced drinker once said at the bar,
"'The administrator of our city is an immodest beggar;
"'Whose degradation has enthroned him with a crown?
"'Whose obscenity has bestowed him with a golden cloak?
"'Everything in his luxurious place is begged from someone,
"'The giver is no other than a voiceless mendicant;
"'And the one who supplicates is a beggar either he seeks alms or taxes,
"'Believe it or not both the leaders and rulers are beggars.'"
"The Unhindered Mixing of Males and Females Also Comes Under the Definition of Immodesty; Vulgarity and Nudity… Lead to Unlawful Sex and Homosexuality"
"Allah Almighty says in the Holy Koran: 'Satan threatens you with poverty and bids you to conduct in an unseemly manner. Allah promises you His forgiveness and bounties' [Chapter Al-Baqarah, Verse 268]. It means that opening the begging bowl is akin to shamelessness and immodesty.
"Unfortunately, at this time, [Pakistani leaders'] roaming the world with a begging bowl [for loans] has become our worldwide identity – even though our poor and laborers eat their hard-earned money. As a result of the rulers' luxurious lifestyles and plunder, we as a nation wander here and there, forced to beg. Our reliance on others has deprived us of our sovereignty, ego and dignity. Even our defense, foreign, interior and education policies are imported, and our rulers are forced to follow these policies.
"Allah the Almighty says: 'Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberty to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustices and rebellion. He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition [Chapter Al-Nahl, Verse 90]. Here Allah the Almighty has mentioned the three best characteristics in comparison with three bad ones. A society will prosper with the three best characteristics, while the three bad characteristics lead the society to decay and decline, finally pushing it into the deep abyss.
"Obscenity is a major form of shamelessness. Unhindered mixing of males and females also comes under the definition of immodesty. Vulgarity and nudity… lead to unlawful sex and homosexuality – now known as gayness and lesbianism. These immoralities have spread quickly in Western society, and now men and women are marrying people of the same gender."
"[IJT's] Daughters of Islam Have Stemmed the Flood of Immodesty in Schools, Colleges, and Universities by Carrying Out the Sacred Duty of Safeguarding the Traditional Norms of Islam"
"In many countries … [same-sex marriage] has been legalized. Clubs for homosexuals have been established, and homosexuals hold public meetings and march for their rights, and in democratic societies numerous individuals and political parties have incorporated their demands in their manifestos in order to get their votes. And this is considered a sign of progressiveness and liberalism.
"In Pakistan, these immoralities do exist, but are still veiled, because these acts are considered shameful. But at the same time, there is a possibility that if obscenity and immorality are not controlled in a timely manner, the strength of those who rebel against Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him) may increase to the extent that they cast off this veil.
"Some time back, a gathering of homosexuals was held at the U.S. Embassy [in Islamabad]; the participation of Pakistani homosexuals in that is an alarm bell. This is why the IJT campaign for modesty – declared by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) as landmark characteristic of Islam – is deserving of appreciation.
"These respectable and modest daughters of Islam have stemmed the flood of immodesty in schools, colleges and universities, by carrying out the sacred duty of safeguarding the traditional norms of Islam. We salute them. Our national poet Allama Iqbal has declared obscenity to be part of the victories of white civilization. He prayed for the younger generation, [beseeching] Allah to save them from these curses; addressing his son, he wrote:
"'Modesty has vanished from the eyes of society,
"'I pray for you that your youth remains safe from stain.'
"In a couplet, he reminds Europe and the West that Syria gave them a prophet [the reference is unclear] who was the illustration of modesty and piety, but that they had reciprocated by flooding Syria with prostitutes. And the gift from the whites [i.e. prostitutes] has now engulfed the whole world.
"This is like in the early days of Islam, when idolaters used dancing female slaves to distract Muslims from the teachings of the Holy Koran, and they failed badly. Likewise, God willing, the harbingers of Western civilization will meet the same plight, despite their adoption of the cheap tactics of immorality and immodesty against the commandments of the Holy Koran and against the pious sons and daughters of Islam."
 Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), March 1, 2011.
 The Friday Times (Pakistan), December 2-8, 2011. The English has been lightly edited for clarity.
 Roznama Jang (Pakistan), November 11, 2011.