Religious parties warn of 1977-like agitation

Published: March 16, 2016
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JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. PHOTO: AFP

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. PHOTO: AFP

LAHORE: 

Religious parties warned the government on Tuesday of a nationwide protest movement if the controversial women’s protection act of Punjab was not withdrawn by March 27.

Describing the Protection of Women Against Violence Act as ‘un-Islamic’, the religious groups convened another meeting on April 2 in Islamabad to decide their future course of action. Representatives of more than 35 religious parties huddled in Mansoora, Lahore, for an All-Pakistan Ulema Conference organised by the Jamaat-e-Islami and unanimously condemned the women’s protection law.

Religious groups say law protecting women from abuse ‘un-Islamic’

They called upon the government to re-introduce the law, accommodating the recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology, which advises parliament on the compatibility of laws with Islam. It has already declared the act un-Islamic. The government has formed a consultation committee to mull over possible amendments.

The Protection of Women against Violence Act passed last month gives legal protection to women from domestic, psychological and sexual violence. It recommends creating a toll-free abuse reporting  hotline, shelters for women and district-level panels to investigate reports of abuse. It also allows using GPS bracelets to keep track of offenders.

Unanimous condemnation

A joint declaration after Tuesday’s conference said statements given by government officials on the women’s protection law and Mumtaz Qadri’s hanging were against the Sharia, the ideology of Pakistan and its Constitution.

Pakistan was founded on the principles of Islam and the Objectives Resolution, it said, adding that all religious parties would thwart all efforts to make Pakistan a liberal or secular state. The resolution claimed the law would increase the divorce rate in society and result in damaging the traditional family structure. It also said that the law was introduced in an effort to Westernise the country.

Women protection bill challenged in sharia court

The leaders called for the proper implementation of the existing laws on violence against women instead of introducing un-Islamic laws.

Condemning the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, the declaration said all cases registered under blasphemy laws should be expedited and the convicts punished accordingly.

The government was also warned against linking terrorism with Islamic seminaries and asked to remove all restrictions against mosques and religious schools under the National Action Plan. JI chief Sirajul Haq had earlier said the religious parties were against violence targeting women, but the law would destroy the family system of Pakistan.

Fazlur Rehman claimed Premier Nawaz Sharif was himself upset with the passage of the bill as it was done without his prior approval. “I was surprised the premier did not know about it, but I am happy that he wants to resolve the issue now,” he said.

Divided within

Interestingly, legislators in the Punjab Assembly are also divided on the controversial law. PPP parliamentary leader Qazi Ahmad Saeed claims there were reservations among legislators even when the bill was passed. “But voicing them meant creating the impression that we were against women,” he said.

None of the male legislators from the opposition benches were present or opposed the bill during the vote, something which Saeed admits. “At first, the government was in haste. Now, they just want to silence the religious parties before it balloons into a bigger issue.”

Any amendments now will see the PPP engaging more actively. “Our party’s stance is clear. We will oppose anything deemed un-Islamic,” Qazi said.

Of the 76 women lawmakers of the Punjab Assembly, only 44 were present at the time of legislation. PTI’s Shunila Ruth was one of them. “I fail to understand the hue and cry. There is a perception that this law has somehow challenged the masculinity of men in our society,” she said.

Fazl says PM has promised to tweak women’s law

She said the positive part of the law was at least there was a state organ to address these concerns. “The only opposition towards this law would be if anyone comes out saying there is no violence against women to begin with. Can anyone substantiate that claim?” Shunila, however, says there is no harm in addressing the reservations through amendments.

Punjab Assembly’s Standing Committee on Gender Mainstreaming Chairperson Raheela Khadim believes not just the law but the women supporting it also were facing criticism. “Women are usually snubbed in the society and this attitude is present even in the upper echelons of the society. An example would be the criticism being faced publicly by women supporting the law.”

One of the many women behind the law, Azma Bukhari says despite the growing opposition, the law is in no danger. “There are so many contradictions in the concerns raised. There is no answer over which clause of the law is un-Islamic,” said the PML-N lawmaker, also the chairperson of the standing committee on Law and parliamentary affairs.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2016.

Reader Comments (26)

  • Confused
    Mar 16, 2016 - 9:29AM

    They need a Zia to agitate like 1977. They do have a Zia protege though in Islamabad and Lahore.Recommend

  • Sam
    Mar 16, 2016 - 10:09AM

    Shame. Have these mullahs done anything that make nation proud? Ever?Recommend

  • JB
    Mar 16, 2016 - 10:40AM

    What kind of Islam are these people following? How can protecting women actually be unislamic???Recommend

  • Rumormonger
    Mar 16, 2016 - 11:11AM

    Everyone knows that the 1977 movement was backed by the West to overthrow ZAB. Who will be funding these guys now? They calim to have driven the Soviets out of Afghanistan, but only with help from the US.Recommend

  • S
    Mar 16, 2016 - 11:12AM

    Let them protest and cry but please don’t give into themRecommend

  • SHAH
    Mar 16, 2016 - 11:29AM

    At one time our PM did not know at about Kargil, Now we find out that he does not know anything about this Women Protection & Rights Bill ??? WOW, what kind of PM this guy is that he is not aware of major events going on in Pakistan ???? Maybe he needs to visit Pakistan more frequently and more often and spend time with his Pakistani guests to know more about this country as well. Recommend

  • Nikki
    Mar 16, 2016 - 11:37AM

    ha ha ha ,its fun now in Pakistan Recommend

  • Rollin & Trollin
    Mar 16, 2016 - 11:38AM

    @JB: They are following their own version of Islam to accommodate their own insecurities. And Jinnah founded Pakistan as a Muslim secular state, not the theocratic state that these characters envision. The only issue with the act is that there should also be a parallel act for the protection of men against violence.Recommend

  • sabi
    Mar 16, 2016 - 11:53AM

    You go for it so that we meet you for the final encounter.Enough is enough.Heaven will definitely fall on you. Recommend

  • Acorn Guts
    Mar 16, 2016 - 1:48PM

    They will use Qadri’s death to rally people but I don’t see them succeed. 1977 was a completely different story altogetherRecommend

  • Saad Q
    Mar 16, 2016 - 3:46PM

    Zia is the Founder of Modern Pakistan.Recommend

  • vinsin
    Mar 16, 2016 - 5:29PM

    @Rollin & Trollin:
    Jinnah Fourteen point doesnt support secularism.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Mar 16, 2016 - 5:48PM

    We need to cleanse Pakistan of these people.Recommend

  • Uzair
    Mar 16, 2016 - 7:23PM

    So it seems these mullahs want the right to physically beat up women unfortunate enough to be part of their households. And they want to extend this right to all Pakistani males, in the name of religion. Or am I reading this wrong?Recommend

  • Mubarik
    Mar 16, 2016 - 7:39PM

    According to news there are more than 35 “Islamic parties” coming together to challenge women protection bill. It is apparent that there are at least 35 different brands of Islam represented by these mullahs, if you choose one then you are going to annoy the remaining 34 brands. In my opinion government should not give in to these forces of darkness and deal with them sternly. One quick solution is to ask all these mullahs to offer prayer behind one Imam as precondition to discuss this bill and lo and behold they will never do it, because though they have come together politically they don’t consider each other true Muslim.Recommend

  • Majid
    Mar 16, 2016 - 8:35PM

    I think you guys forget the two nation theory. How is it possible that you build your building on one base and you want to convert your building shape different then your base. I am not saying who is right or wrong but one I want to clear our elders wasn’t aware about secular, they were mostly practical Muslims. We also need on practical Muslim ruler not like NS, IK or AAZ. Recommend

  • Babbarsher Khan
    Mar 16, 2016 - 9:03PM

    Loots like the Bearded Brigade is missing Zia ul Haq very much, let’s pack them in one of the Kaptaan’s discarded container and ship them to late dictator’s current abode!Recommend

  • Qasim Khan
    Mar 16, 2016 - 9:37PM

    I wonder what f any women ulema exist in Pakistan and if so what is their opinion on this legislation. In all these protest meetings, not a single woman was in attendance.Recommend

  • Anjum Malik
    Mar 16, 2016 - 10:08PM

    Every Pakistani will help these people. Please note that people of Pakistan will not allow anyone at any cost to de-track Pakistan from its ideological ground.Recommend

  • SindhiLiberal_UniteLiberalsOfPak
    Mar 16, 2016 - 10:17PM

    Mulas and fundamentalists get to agitate, work as pressure group and dictate their stone age agenda. They have no respect for human rights, women rights, and minorities. Why liberal, sane and progressive forces are quiet, this is time to wake up and resist the Mula mindset, and reverse their agenda, if they succeed reversing bill using their pressure tactics, nothing will change in Pakistan. Mula wants Pak to go back to stone tribal age, in this 21st century we cant afford it, world is advancing fast, planning to establish colonies in Mars, but we are still discussing some old Mula centric right wing agendas. Time to unite and stop Mula and fundamentalists once for all.Recommend

  • Sajjad
    Mar 16, 2016 - 10:35PM

    Go ahead Mullah, this is not 1977 and prime minister is from Punjab. so Dream on. Recommend

  • yamuri
    Mar 17, 2016 - 12:10AM

    Civil society needs to start movement against these barbarians and gangsters in the guise of religious leaders. I am up for it. Hands up all those who will be up!!!Recommend

  • Ejaz
    Mar 17, 2016 - 2:40AM

    The Pakistan was NOT created for the Mullahs. The Islamic Sharia was imposed by the coup dictator (Zia-Ul-Haque). We, the people of Pakistan never wanted any Sharia. Let the the Mullahs go to an Arab country. Perhaps a rich Oil Sheikh can adopt them as animals for his zoo. If the men in Pakistan are not respecting the rights of the women, then they are the most uncivilized people on the earth. THE FIRST UNIVERTY FOR A CHILD IS ALWAYS A WOMAN (mother). I have seen the annual results of schools, colleges and universities in Pakistan. For the last 20 years the girls are getting the best results. The women in Pakistan have atleast 7 to 10 IQ points higher than the boys / or men. Observe the results carefully. Note: The Execution of a man or woman is not mentioned in the Koran; it is mentioned in the Old Testament (the Book of the Jews). Make some Comparative Studies of the monotheistic religions. PLEASE DO NOT TRUST THE MULLAHS. Recommend

  • Naresh
    Mar 17, 2016 - 3:35AM

    @Rollin & Trollin: And Jinnah founded Pakistan as a Muslim secular state, not the theocratic state that these characters envision
    Sir Ji, Jinnah also promised Full Sharia!Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Mar 17, 2016 - 5:17AM

    @vinsin:
    As an Indian you would of course assert that and falsely so. But Jinnah openly declared that religion, amongst other things, is not the business of the state.Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Mar 17, 2016 - 5:34AM

    @Majid:
    What you and Vinsin allege are incorrect. Prior to Partition, and for obvious reasons, Jinnah justified the need for a separate Islamic state to be carved out of India. However once Pakistan was created, he declared what was actually closer to his heart, that the country needed to be on the secular path.Recommend

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