PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly adopted a landmark piece of legislation on Thursday, barring a bride’s family members, relatives and outsiders from making dowry payments to the groom and his family.
The law also restricts the maximum value of gifts given to the bride by her parents, family members or any other person to Rs10,000. It is now illegal for anyone from the groom’s family or anyone on their behalf to ask or force the bride’s family for dowry. If they still do, they shall be liable to a two-month prison term and a fine of Rs300,000 or both.
The law titled, ‘the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Dowry, Bridal Gift and Marriage Functions Restriction Act, 2017,’ states that the total expenditures on marriages, including on baarats or valimas shall not exceed Rs75,000 and other ceremonies, including nikah, baraat or valima shall be concluded before 10pm.
Similarly, the law restricts the valima to a one-dish banquet of rice, gravy and sweets. It also states that a person or family celebrating the nikah or baraat or organising the marriage ceremony of other person shall not serve or allow anyone to meals or other edibles, excluding beverages, to people participating in the ceremony.
Under the law, anyone who contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of this law shall be liable to pay a fine not less than Rs200,000 and an imprisonment term not exceeding two months.
The bill, tabled by the Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) Rashda Riffat, was unanimously adopted by the house.
Services of more than 3,000 employees of the health and irrigation departments were regularised after the adoption of two separate laws tabled by Pakistan Peoples Party lawmaker Sardar Fakhar Azam Khan.
The assembly also adopted a resolution asking the provincial government to include chapters on the life of celebrated humanitarian and charity founder Abdul Sattar Edhi in textbooks taught in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Concerns on Fata reforms
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) expressed concern over the five-year plan for merging the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) into the province.
Senior Minister for Irrigation Sikandar Sherpao of QWP objected over the delay, saying that the assembly had passed resolutions asking the federal government for an immediate merger.
“We want local government elections in Fata this year and general elections next year in accordance with the committee’s report,” he said, adding that the cabinet had adopted the report with a five-year delay in the merger was an injustice with the people of Fata.
The provincial minister for public health engineering Shah Farman of PTI also condemned the delay and accused the federal government of dishonesty.
“We see the delay … with suspicion and we view it as the federal government’s dishonesty … We condemn this move,” he said.
Opposition leader Maulana Lutfur Rahman of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) said that the people of Fata should have been consulted before the decision.
“This can be done via a referendum,” he said, adding that all stakeholders should be taken onboard while making decisions regarding the future of Fata.
Rahman also criticised the PTI-led government over the financial crisis in the province, saying that if the government continued to move at the same pace, the next governments would not have enough money for development projects.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2017.