In a historic move the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) on Monday enacted a law to curb sectarian menace that has plagued the mountain region. The GBLA has become the first provincial legislature to have enacted a law dealing with sectarianism.
Titled “Code of Conduct” (CoC), the bill was unanimously passed by the GBLA after being tabled in the house by Law Minister Wazir Shakeel on Friday.
“CoC has been given a legal status and GBLA is the first assembly to have passed such a bill,” said Amjad Hussain, a lawyer and ruling party member of GBLA. He said that the bill was earlier endorsed by top clerics of different schools of thought.
Hussain said that soon after the law was passed, the G-B government reopened the two central mosques sealed after sectarian violence that claimed over two dozen lives in the region. He added that from now on violators of the law will be treated under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The CoC was initially prepared by the parliamentary peace committee constituted by lawmakers binding prayer leaders not to make hate speeches or use foul language against each others beliefs and religious personalities.
It states that the prayer leaders will not issue edicts against each another’s sect, especially during Friday and Eid sermons. It further states that the clerics will also not demand their respective sect’s share in jobs and other government matters.
GBLA speaker Wazir Baig applauded the role of the lawmakers in passing the bill, saying that it will be a milestone in ensuring durable peace in the region.
G-B Chief Secretary Saifullah Chatha said that lawmakers have made history by passing the law. “I congratulate you on this extraordinary achievement,” he said, while addressing lawmakers at a local hotel.
“I’m hopeful that the rest of assemblies would also emulate GBLA in order to root out religious extremism from their respective regions,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2012.
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