ISLAMABAD “” Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, president of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), has agreed “to some extent” that some clauses of the Women’s Protection Bill are “un-Islamic” and will meet religious scholars again on December 9 to discuss the issue, a senior
cleric has claimed.
The Pakistan Muslim League was authorized by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to negotiate with clerics over possible changes to the bill, as described in the earlier story linked above.
Sixteen religious scholars met Shujaat on Sunday and told him that six clauses of the Women’s Protection Bill, which the president recently signed into law, were against Islamic injunctions, Qari Hanif Jalandhry, leader of the Tehrik-e-Tahafuz-e-Hudood Allah,
told reporters after the meeting. He said Shujaat “agreed to some extent that a few clauses in the bill were un-Islamic”. The two sides decided to meet again in Karachi on December 9.
The clerics termed four main clauses as repugnant to the Holy Quran and Sunnah and called for their repeal. These include:
i) Exclusion of rape from Hadd;
ii) Powers extended to the provincial governments to reduce punishment in adultery or consensual sex cases under Clause 5 of Section 20 of the bill;
iii) Amendments to Qazf Ordinance regarding punishment for perjury and
iv) Another amendment in which if a woman voluntarily admits her offence she would remain exempted from Hadd.
The ulema said two other clauses in the bill could be used to protect adulterers because the prosecution would have to produce four witnesses in court at the time of lodging of a zina complaint, and zina (fornication) has been made a non-cognisable offence; and courts cannot award punishments in any other offence committed by the accused in case he or she is proved not guilty in a zina case. During the meeting, the government side proposed that the bill could be referred to the Federal Shariat Court for determination whether it violated Islamic injunctions. The ulema rejected the proposal and demanded the act be amended through parliament, Qari Hanif said.
Shujaat promised to brief President Pervez Musharraf about the reservations voiced by the delegation.