ISLAMABAD: Wafaq-ul-Madaris Al-Arabia (WMA) – the largest federation of Islamic seminaries – has rejected the proposed committee announced by Punjab chief minister on the controversial Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act (PPWVA) and demanded to immediately amend the act.
“We have had a bad experience of committees in the past. So instead of forming a committee, the Punjab government should take practical steps and immediately amend the act,” WMA General Secretary Qari Muhammad Hanif Jalandhari told a press conference on Wednesday.
Last month, the Punjab Assembly unanimously passed the bill – a move that drew the wrath of religious parties, which have been criticising it for being ‘un-Islamic’. The religious parties during a huddle on Tuesday also warned the government of a nationwide protest movement if the controversial women’s protection act of Punjab was not withdrawn by March 27.
The JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has already met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has promised to address the religious parties’ reservations. However, Jalandhari said verbal promises and committees were not solution to any problems and that Punjab law ministry should either withdraw the act or remove the controversial clauses.
He said the provincial government should have consulted religious scholars before doing legislation. “There should be a law [for protection of women] but controversial clauses should be removed from the act,” he said. Jalandhari said Islam is the only religion which protects the rights of women and asked the government to make an effective legislation on forced marriages and women’s share in inheritance, which, he believed, are the real issues.
He said religious scholars will cooperate with the government if it is interested to make an effective legislation but will oppose the controversial clauses. He said on April 3 a religious conference will be held in Lahore to portray the positive picture of seminaries and Islam in the country.
“Some forces in the country are trying to make this country secular but we will remain a hurdle in the way of any anti-Islamic move and will oppose it,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2016.