The government might face stiff opposition from elements of the country’s religious right, as it plans to table a revised version of the Domestic Violence Bill in the parliament soon.
Clerics at Wafaq-ul-Madaris Al-Arabia Pakistan have reached a unanimous understanding to ‘resist’ the passage of the bill in parliament, if the government does not consult them in preparing the legislation’s final draft.
They also demanded a ‘review’ of the bill, so that a consensus can be achieved on the law, before it is presented to Parliament for approval.
At a meeting in Dar-ul-Uloom Zakarriya, plans were chalked out to resist the current form of the legislation being proposed, sources told The Express Tribune.
“We cannot let the government legalise anti-Islamic values in the name of so-called rhetoric of women’s emancipation,” asserted Qari Hanif Jalandhry, Nazim-e-Aala of the Islamabad chapter of the Wafaq. “Foreign elements are funding NGOs to promote an agenda that seeks to undermine Islamic values and traditions,” Jalandhry added.
According to a statement issued from the seminary on Sunday night, certain controversial clauses of the bill might destroy the family structure of the Muslim community.
“We will not tolerate anyone undermining values of Sufism,” highlights the statement.
The seminary’s stance comes at a time when Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) has already asked the government not to pursue the current form of the legislation.
According to the JUI-F, it promotes the infusion of ‘Western cultural values’ in Pakistani society. “The government is bent on ruining Islamic values and traditions by introducing such laws,” said Wafaq Spokesperson Maulana Abdul Qadoos, when contacted by The Express Tribune.
“A mother’s lap is the primary institute for educating the child. However, some elements are trying to ruin that beautiful relationship through a legal cover,” Qadoos added.
According to Qadoos, if the need arises, clerics across Pakistan can hold consultations with religious political parties to streamline clauses of the bill according to the tenets of the holy Quran and Sunnah.
“That is the only way to accord women their due stature in society,” asserted Qudoos.
“We have serious reservations over controversial clauses of the bill. Thus, we demand removal of these from the original draft of the legislation,” pointed out Qudoos.
Other religious parties also plan to support the clerics’ stance.
“The domestic violence bill should be based on Islamic principles,” said former Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Senator Professor Ibrahim.
“Islam guarantees protection of women’s right if its principles are followed,” added Ibrahim.
The bill, first tabled in 2009, seeks to stop domestic violence against women. However, prospects of it getting passed soon were dimmed as a deadlock persisted over the issue in last week’s joint sitting of the parliament.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2012.