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Religious parties plan to table ‘women bill’ in NA, Senate

Religious parties plan to table ‘women bill’ in NA, Senate

LAHORE: Religious parties have decided to propose a new women protection bill in the National Assembly and Senate in place of the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act, 2015.

A 24-member steering committee, headed by Jamaat-i-Islami leader Liaquat Baloch, has authored the bill.

“The new bill proposes protection and empowerment of women of Pakistan in light of Islam, doing away with the Punjab government’s women protection law which is un-Islamic,” a Jamaat-i-Islami leader told Dawn after the Nizam-i-Mustafa Conference attended by 35 religious parties at Mansoora here on Saturday.

He said the steering committee had thoroughly examined the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act, 2015, and reached the conclusion that no amendment was required (to this law). “The government has only one option — repeal this law and pass the one proposed by the steering committee (of the religious parties) which will completely be based on Islamic tenets,” he said.

The conference declared that there would be no compromise on the Punjab’s women protection law and vowed to continue struggle for enforcement of the Nizam-i-Mustafa in the country.

According to a joint declaration adopted in the conference, the Punjab women protection law is an “attack on the Muslim family system”.

“This moot condemns maltreatment of women, but the government cannot be permitted to disturb unity of the (Muslim) family system through the new law passed by the Punjab Assembly,” it said.

According to the declaration, the Punjab women protection law had been “totally rejected” by women across the board and Ulema of all schools of thought. “The Council of Islamic Ideology has also termed it against Shariah. Under the constitution, any law violating Shariah has no legal status.”

Last month, religious parties had warned the government to withdraw the women protection act or face 1977-like movement. The government, however, paid no attention to the warning and asked them to propose amendments.

Then the clerics decided to form a steering committee to come out with a new draft law. “If the government creates hurdles in the passage of our bill we will certainly be on the roads,” the JI leader said.

The declaration reiterated the stance of all clerics of all schools of thought on blasphemy laws. “Any amendment to the blasphemy laws is unacceptable. Execution of Mumtaz Qadri is a judicial murder.”

The conference demanded release of those arrested in Islamabad (in connection with a protest against the execution of Qadri) and withdrawal of cases against them.

The declaration denounced efforts of a section of the media to ridicule Islamic rites, causing provocation and promoting Indian culture, besides obscenity and nudity, and stressed that this tendency must be checked effectively.

It condemned the recent suicide bombing in Lahore, besides all forms of terrorism and extremism, and observed that these were aimed at weakening the country’s ideology, solidarity and economy.

It said Indian intelligence agency’s terrorist network was aimed at weakening Pakistan and demanded that RAW agents or spies taken into custody must be handed down exemplary punishment under the law.

The declaration condemned the government’s propaganda against seminaries and linking them with terrorism.

It criticised efforts aimed at pushing the Kashmir issue on back burner and the government’s silence over victimisation of the pro-Pakistan people in Bangladesh.

Jamaat-i-Islami Emir Sirajul Haq, chief of his own faction of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, JUI-S head Maulana Samiul Haq, Dr Abul Khair Zubair, Prof Sajid Meer, Hafiz Aakif Saeed, Allama Sajid Naqvi, Pir Ejaz Hashmi, Pir Abdur Rahim Naqshbandi and Pir Haroon Gilani were prominent among those who attended the conference.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2016

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