Relief for victims of under-age marriage: New bill to amend family laws
ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Wednesday approved a draft bill seeking amendments to the country’s family laws with a view to enabling women who are married as minors to settle long-running family feuds to obtain divorce upon reaching puberty.Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz presided over the four-hour cabinet meeting which discussed a whole range of economic and political issues, notably the threat of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal legislators to resign from the National Assembly.Federal Minister for Information Mohammad Ali Durrani told newsmen that the Family Laws (Amendment) Bill 2006 had been drafted in compliance with an order by the Supreme Court which, hearing a constitutional petition, had directed the government on April 24, 2006, to suitably amend Section 310-A of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Titled “Compounding of Qisas (Sulh) in Qatl-i-Amd”, the relevant section of the PPC says: “In the case of Qatl-i-Amd, an adult, sane wali may, at any time on accepting badl-i-sulh, compound is right: provided that only giving a female in marriage shall not be valid badal-i-sulh.”
Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Sher Afgan Khan Niazi explained to Dawn that the draft bill sought to provide relief to women who were married by their parents or guardians against their will to settle old disputes.Answering a question, he said the draft bill provided for no punitive action against those who married under-age girls to settle family feuds. He added that it only gave women a right to obtain a divorce upon reaching puberty.Dr Niazi said the draft bill would be tabled in the National Assembly in its next session.
“The National Assembly will meet in January. A large number of parliamentarians will proceed to Saudi Arabia to perform Haj. The National Assembly session will be held after Haj,” he said.
TRADE ACCORDS: Mr Durrani told newsmen that Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Pakistan opened many avenues of cooperation in the field of trade, energy and defence. He was asked if Pakistan had sought to reach an understanding with China over the kind of nuclear deal India had signed with the US, he said: “All issues are going side by side. Pakistan is currently focussing on the trade balance issue.” He said the cabinet appreciated the signing of the free trade agreement with China which would increase annual Sino-Pakistan trade to $15 billion.
He said the cabinet approved a cooperation agreement with the Export Promotion Agency of Argentina. He said signing of a protocol on a preferential tariff scheme among member states of the Organisation of Islamic Conference was also approved.He said the cabinet also agreed in principle to start negotiations on a terrorism cooperation agreement with Morocco.