ISLAMABAD: A piece of legislation on underage marriage has resurrected the debate on the issue, but the movers on Wednesday shunned the impression that it was introduced in reaction to an earlier ruling of the Council of Islamic Ideology.
The CII had recently ruled that laws on child marriage were un-Islamic.
Lawmakers from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), led by MNA Marvi Memon, had introduced a bill in the National Assembly on March 25 suggesting harsher punishments for those who contract and solemnize such marriages through amendments in the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929.
This bill was sent two months ago to the Secretariat. Interestingly the timing of it coming from the Secretariat to the floor of the house is such that it came after the decision of the CII.
“That is not of my making. We have not suddenly introduced this bill as a reaction to the ruling of the CII,” Marvi Memon said while talking to The Express Tribune, on Wednesday.
She clarified saying “It [bill] is not as a reaction. This bill was moved to the Secretariat a couple of months back and the process takes it due course and time. Now it has come to that time and I am grateful the government decided to send it to the committee,” she added.
“This is not [pushing] a Western agenda,” she said. “We are a PML-N government and follow the constitution and all Islamic laws in letter and in spirit.”
“Yes, we feel strongly about protecting our children and we do it keeping the Quran and Sunnah in mind. At no point will we move away from the Quran and Sunnah,” she added.
She further said, “As a sitting member of the PML-N, I would never dream of bringing an un-Islamic law to Parliament because we also have to answer to God before we answer to anyone else.”
Responding to a question, Memon said that she is looking forward to giving the arguments during the parliamentary committee.
“What was followed yesterday was completely as per process: the mover moves a bill, the government gives its response, and then allows discussion and debate in the committee,” she added.
Strategy at parliamentary committee
Though the matter has not yet been fixed for deliberations in the standing committee, the movers have made their strategy and for that matter they will be assisted by religious scholars who will respond to the concerns of the CII.
“We will put forward the recommendations of Islamic scholars and data from Islamic countries before the parliamentary committee. This will ensure that the issue will be settled in line with the teachings of Islam,” said Memon.
Responding to a question about the CII chairman Maulana Muhammad Khan Shirani’s statement that Parliament cannot legislate against Islam, she said “Maulana Shirani has rightly said that the Parliament cannot legislate on a bill which is against Islam, but the question is who will determine that?”
It will be determined by the committee and in case it determines that the bill is against the teachings of Islam, there will be no legislation.
There is no legislation at this juncture. The committee will merely discuss and there is no bar on holding discussion, she added.
"The deciding factor is the parliament and if it decides the bill is un-Islamic then it has the right to throw this bill out,” she added.
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