Our nation’s family doctor, also the federal minister for information, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has revealed that the breakdown of the PPP-PML-N alliance is not a divorce but a separation, and hence there is still a possibility of ‘ruju’ (return). This claim, by the spokesperson of the affected party, has given birth to many questions which may require ‘fatwas’ from those who know the rules of engagement for political marriages.
The first question is, did a ‘marriage’, so to speak, really take place? If it did, was it a case of ‘marriage’ being forced on both sides or was it purely one of convenience? Should the Charter of Democracy be taken as the nikahnama and if so, could we say that they took their vows in Bhurban? Was the marriage registered with a nikah registrar and, if so, was it Maulana Fazlur Rehman or Maulana Hamid Saeed Kazmi? What was the haq mehr? Was it the Takht-i-Lahore? If it is proven that it was not a case of political cohabitation and something more than that, then the next question that arises is whether the parties had agreed on a right to divorce. If the answer is yes, was a ‘divorce’, or a complete parting of ways, pronounced and how many times.
‘Ruju’ is possible only if the return of the woman takes place before the third ‘talaq’ is pronounced and before the end of the ‘iddat’ period. While the doctor insists that it is only a separation, the other party claims that it is a break that is permanent. The PML-N chief and his spokesmen have repeated umpteen times (not just three times) that it is a permanent split — a ‘divorce’. So what is the status of this relationship? A mufti would ask when was the last time the parties engaged in meaningful interaction? According to an insider in the PML-N, quoted in a newspaper, the fate of the relationship was sealed on January 4. Is it just a coincidence that Governor Salmaan Taseer was gunned down the same day? (Maybe he was the one who was keeping the couple from parting ways!). If the Raiwind fiqh is accepted, there has to be a halala before a reunion can take place. And the PML-N is already engaged to be married to the so-called Unification Bloc. Maybe the good doctor can advise her party to quickly negotiate with whatever is left of the Q-League and consummate the ensuing ‘marriage’ immediately. Then, all that the two sides will have to do will be a quick divorce from the second partner, which shouldn’t be difficult to arrange. Dr Awan is a good doctor and can fix such family matters. After all, she has been the family planning minister as well.
She successfully shot down the two-day weekend by claiming that it is providing extra time to couples and contributing to a further increase in population. It is not just the PPP that treats politics as a family matter, the PML-N leadership keeps on talking about betrayals, breaking of promises and threats from the partner as well. The PML-Q has interpreted the betrayal of its 47 MPAs in the same manner. Their Punjab leader, his voice choked with emotions, asked the media: “Can sons of a family join hands and change their father’s name (waldiat)?”
However, he did not clarify who the father is in this case. Is it Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain or the father-in-exile, General Pervez Musharraf? Or should a DNA test be ordered to determine the parentage? If that is done for our major parties, it may spring many surprises. One can only advise that all parties should be very careful about their choice of life partners and terms of engagement and divorce. As far as the ruju, suggested by the doctor, one should not expect too much. After all, it was never a love marriage.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2011.
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