World’s newest superhero fights for Pak girls’ education

Wonder Woman and Supergirl now have a Pakistani counterpart in the pantheon of female superheroes — one who shows a lot less skin.

Meet Burka Avenger: a mild-mannered teacher with secret martial arts skills who uses a flowing black burka to hide her identity as she fights local thugs seeking to shut down the girls' school where she works.

Sadly, it's a battle Pakistanis are all too familiar with in the real world.

The Taliban have blown up hundreds of schools and attacked activists in Pakistan's northwest because they oppose girls' education. The militants sparked worldwide condemnation last fall when they shot Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old schoolgirl activist, in the head in an unsuccessful attempt to kill her.

Action in the Burka Avenger cartoon series, scheduled to start running on Geo TV early August, is much more lighthearted. The bungling bad guys evoke more laughter than fear and are no match for the Burka Avenger, undoubtedly the first South Asian ninja who wields books and pens as weapons.

The Urdu language show is the brainchild of one of Pakistan's biggest pop stars, Aaron Haroon Rashid - known to many as simply Haroon - who conceived of it as a way to emphasize the importance of girls' education and teach children other lessons, such as protecting the environment and not discriminating against others.

"Each one of our episodes is centered around a moral, which sends out strong social messages to kids," Rashid told The Associated Press in his first interview about the show. "But it is cloaked in pure entertainment, laughter, action and adventure."

The decision to clothe the superhero in a black burqa could raise eyebrows because some people view the outfit as a sign of oppression. The Taliban forced women to wear burqas when they took control of Afghanistan in the 1990s.

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