ONLY 10 days after Pakistan’s military-led Government reformed the country’s medieval rape and adultery laws, Islamabad appeared poised for a major backflip on the issue yesterday in an effort to pacify Islamic fundamentalists who have signed a fatwa against the historic changes.
Hardline Pakistani religious leaders have labelled the reforms “un-Islamic, immoral and unconstitutional” and evidence of “Western values infiltrating society“.
In response, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has authorised the Pakistan Muslim League to negotiate with religious scholars and leaders of the powerful Islamic opposition alliance, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), over changes to the rape bill….
Negotiations over the bill follow two days of fury in mosques across the country, with Muslim priests leading attacks on the changes, denouncing them for their “Western values” and attacking those who supported the reforms.
Under the changes, complaints of rape and adultery will be dealt with under the country’s civil penal code rather than under an obscure Islamic sharia ruling imposed in 1979 that demands that four male witnesses testify before a rape charge can be proved.
Reports said yesterday that as part of the attempt to curb the gathering campaign against the rape law changes, police and paramilitary forces had ringed the headquarters of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party in the Punjab capital of Lahore, where thousands of protesters led by the MMA were gathering to demonstrate against the changes to the legislation.
A leader of the group said: “The MMA remains absolutely committed to stop these changes, and if necessary to bring about a change in the Government.”