Hudood laws to be vetted by CII
ISLAMABAD – The government informed the National Assembly on July 28 that a bill on eradication of honour killing would be tabled in the house after its approval by the cabinet , while the Hudood laws amendment bill would be moved after its review by the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), the law department and developing a consensus among all stakeholders.
The assurance was given in response to the queries by the People’s Party Parliamentarians members about the delay in initiating a debate on a ‘gender discrimination’ bill sought to be introduced by Ms Sherry Rahman on March 24, 2004.
Ms Rahman complained to the chair that the bill in question was neither being allowed for a debate, nor had it been sent to the house select committee for its study. She alleged that the government was deliberately delaying the bill fearing that a debate on such an issue would show how weak was the support for President Musharraf’s enlightened moderation within the ruling party itself.
Adviser to prime minister on women development, social welfare and special education Nilofar Bakhtiar told the house that a draft bill on honour killings would be presented in the next cabinet meeting due on Wednesday and after its approval the bill will be tabled in parliament.
She said the government had already taken a number of steps for the welfare of women including those measures which the PPP had included in its bill just for scoring points.
Ms Bakhtiar said a $365 million project had been approved under which women-specific development schemes would be carried out. She said the women ministry had completed its review of the honour killing bill, whereas the Hudood ordinance amendment draft was under its review. She said a consensus among all the parties would be evolved before the bill was tabled in the house.
Taking the floor on a point of order, MMA’s Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidery stressed the need for a complete consensus on Hudood ordinance as he claimed the law was based on Quran and Sunnah and no legislation could be made against the injunctions of Islam.
He alleged that amendments to Hudood laws were being made on foreign demands and the real problems of women were being ignored. He claimed that a vast majority of women both in the government and opposition benches were against the amendments.
Liaquat Baloch of the MMA claimed that so far the government had taken no steps to evolve a consensus among different parties on amendments to Hudood laws. Saad Rafiq of the PML-N also called for evolving a consensus on the amendment bill before its approval by parliament. He said though his party was opposed to amending Hudood laws, it still wanted that the movers were given a chance to debate its merits on the floor of the house.
Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali said that Pakistan was founded in the name of Islam and its Constitution barred its MPs to frame laws which were repugnant to Shariat. Syed Naveed Qamar expressed his concern over the continuous delay in taking up Sherry Rahman’s bill and asked the chair to take a decision on the bill instead of delaying it.
Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain said that if the house business was continued to be pressed through points of order as it was done today then such delays would continue to be caused.
Petroleum Minister Noraiz Shakoor said the process of amending Hudood laws was not that simple as it had some serious complications which the government wanted to remove by involving all the parties before tabling it in parliament.
The government, he said, was in favour of amending Hudood laws but wanted to develop a consensus among all stakeholders. Earlier, Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri giving a policy statement told the house that the British High Commission had informed the foreign office that the visa applications of the members of parliament would be processed and approved within a week on the recommendatory letter from the respective assembly secretariat.
He said despite restrictions a large number of students continued to go to the UK as 2,000 of them went in 2002, 6,000 in 2003 and 10,000 would proceed during current year.
About complaints of hardships faced by Pakistani visitors while entering the US, the foreign minister said it was due to the strict laws passed by the US Congress. He told the house that he had taken up this issue with US Secretary of State Colin Powell and the foreign office was continuing discussing the matter with the US diplomats to get some relaxation in the application of immigration rules.
Naveed Qamar, Mohammad Hussain Mehnati and Salim Jan Mazari invited the attention of the government towards the problems faced by the members of parliament in getting the US and UK visas.
Imtiaz Safdar of the PPP invited the attention of the house towards the inordinate delays being caused by the Sui gas company in giving gas connections to a village in Gujranwala despite the directives of the federal ombudsman.
Petroleum Minister Noraiz Shakoor assured the house that gas connections would be given during the current fiscal year. Privilege motions of MMA’s Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali and People’s Party Parliamentarians’ Ijaz Jhakrani were referred to the house committee after these were not opposed by the government.
The MMA lawmaker had complained of misbehaviour of two Nowshera police officials in its motion while Ijaz Jhakrani had raised the issue of registration of a FIR against his father in Larkana as part of pressure tactics to change his loyalties.
Noraiz Shakoor also assured the house that no official resources were being used in Tharparkar in connection with the by-elections being contested by Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz.
He said there was no need to use official machinery or government resources because victory in the by-election was not a big problem as this seat had never been won by any one other than Arbab Ghulam Rahim and his family members in the past and they were now supporting the finance minister.
He was responding to Aftab Gilani and Raja Parvaiz Ashraf’s points of order who complained that watercourses in their constituencies had been closed as pressure tactics.
The issue was also raised by People’s Party Parliamentarians’ Nawab Abdul Ghani Talpur, Nawab Yousuf Talpur and Naveed Qamar through a call-attention notice. The PPP members complained against closure of the Kotri agriculture feeder in district Dadu for the last five days which had caused destruction of thousands of acres of farm land.
The government disputed the claim that the watercourse was closed for so many days and said it was closed only for 13 hours due to electricity failure. Petroleum Minister Noraiz Shakoor said the official responsible for the breakdown had been suspended and an inquiry against him had been initiated.