PPP deplores govt bill on Karo-kari
KARACHI – Deploring the passage of the government bill on honour killing, the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians on October 27, alleged that it amounted to condoning the horrible act.
Speaking at a news conference at the Karachi Press Club, PPP MNA Sherry Rehman raised objections to the bill on honour killing presented by the government in the National Assembly on Oct 25.
She said the government was trampling the dignity of the parliament and flouting rules and traditions to get it passed in a hush-hush way.
“It is a moment of great shame for us that in the 21st century, the government is still condoning the horrible act of honour killings,” said Ms Rehman.
Sherry Rehman said “the tragic failure of this bill is that it refuses to address the problem of compromise [compoundability]. It allows the murderer to continue to be forgiven by the heirs or walis of the victim”.
The PPP bill, moved by her, had proposed that this major flaw be done away with and that the wali should be the state. As long as heirs and walis like sons, husbands, brothers, uncles and grandfathers are allowed to ‘forgive’ the murderer who might be a relative, or in collusion with the murderer, the crime would continue to be privatized, she claimed.
This, she said, had happened after the introduction of the Qisas and Diyat laws in 1990, after which the incidence of honour crimes had gone up to the reported killing of five women every day in Pakistan.
According to Ms Rehman, the diyat clause pressures poor people who become walis or heirs to surrender their claims to justice and accept some payment for what is often a preplanned murder.
This encourages a culture of crime against women and devalues the life of the victim, she added, alleging that “the government bill makes no effort to rid society of this menace by removing this clause as the PPP bill had suggested”.
The PPP MNA, who was flanked by the provincial information secretary Waqar Mehdi, President and general secretary of the Karachi chapter, Rashid Rabbani and Rafiq Engineer, and Bilawal House spokesman Aijaz Durrani, said since the Qisas and Diyat laws were implemented, 85 per cent of honour criminals were given full acquittals or either awarded very light sentences.
Sherry Rehman claimed that in its effort to please international donors, the government had thrown in words like blasphemy law, Zina offences and honour killings in the bill, whereas it dealt with none of the above.
It had in fact, she claimed, steadily opposed all attempts to repeal the Hudood Ordinances in parliament when initiated by the PPP-P and also backtracked on its early promise to reduce the arbitrariness and severity of the blasphemy laws.
The government, she said had violated all parliamentary norms and traditions by not considering the PPPP bill on honour killings which was in the committee without debate for six months. Yet the government was accusing the opposition of not working to bring any substantive issues for the public.
Pakistan, she said, needed clear and effective legislation on the scourge of honour killings. This bill does not even come close to the heart of the matter, claimed Ms Rehman.