Friday 30 October 2020

Pakistan Senate panel refuses to protect Hindus, change Muslim family laws

Speaking on the bill seeking amendments to the Muslim family laws, the religious affairs minister of Pakistan said the legislation would create difficulties for the society

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A Senate panel in Pakistan on 24 September rejected two bills – one for the protection of minorities and the other seeking amendments to the Muslim family laws.

The Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony met under the chairmanship of Maulana Ghafoor Haideri.

The Protection of Rights of Minorities Bill, 2020 was introduced in Senate last month by Senator Javed Abbasi.

Senator Rukhsana Zubairi had presented the Muslim Family Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in July this year.

Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Minister of Pakistan Noorul Haq Qadri informed the panel that a committee was already working to prevent the forced conversion of minorities as a Hindu had been made chairman of the National Commission for Minorities. He added that a uniform curriculum was being introduced in the country and the education ministry had ensured the removal of “hate material” from textbooks. He further said the curriculum for class-I to V was ready while that for rest of the classes was being prepared.

Senator Hafiz Abdul Karim, a member of the committee, said a bill for the protection of the rights of Muslims should be presented instead.

“Minorities in Pakistan have already been granted several rights,” he said, adding, “A lot of fuss is made when some Hindu girls convert to Islam and marry Muslim boys. Everybody has the right to freedom of religion.”

Senator Raja Zafarul Haq noted that there were very instances of forced conversions in Pakistan in comparison with India where a war had been waged against minorities.

Senator Kishoo Bai noted that Hindu girls were abducted and forcibly converted. Later when they appeared before court, they changed their statement under duress. The senator stressed the need for legislation to protect minorities. Later, the bill was rejected by a majority vote.

Speaking on the bill seeking amendments to the Muslim family laws, the religious affairs minister of Pakistan said the legislation would create difficulties for the society. He added that his ministry as well the human rights and law ministries had opposed the bill.

The minister maintained that the courts formed to deal with cases pertaining to family laws were already overburdened and setting up separate courts after the passage of the bill would be an uphill task. “The suggestions in this bill have nothing to do with Muslim culture,” he added.

The bill was later rejected. Abida Muhammad Azeem, Haji Momin Khan Afridi, Javed Abbasi and Manzoor Ahmed Kakar attended the meeting.

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