Ashrafi calls for removal of clauses from Punjab’s Women Protection Act


Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) Chairman Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi on Wednesday asked the Punjab government to remove ‘controversial’ clauses from the Women Protection Act (WPA), contrary to what he said earlier in the week.

Addressing an Ulema Convention in Islamabad, Ashrafi stated that the Women Protection Act, introduced by the Punjab Assembly, should not be abolished altogether, but rather reservations of religious scholars regarding it should be addressed.

He said that some clauses of the Women Protection Act were contradictory to social norms, Shariah and Constitution, which should be revisited.

“Islam gave rights to women and prohibited every kind of violence against them,” said Ashrafi.

Ashrafi, unlike other religious scholars, on Monday had come forward to support the law. The cleric had said that instead of criticising almost all the reformist laws, the ulema and the country’s religious leadership should come forward with progressive suggestions.

“I would call upon the clergy to play a responsible role for girls’ education, to help eradicate other social ills like dowry and so on from the country,” he had said.

The Punjab Assembly, on Feb 24, 2016, passed the bill and the bill has since stirred controversy and criticism from religious circles. Clerics have come out in opposition to the bill irrespective of their sects.

The bill was passed unanimously by the Punjab Assembly. Although Jamaat-i-Islami Pakistan (JI) has a member in the aforementioned assembly, members of the party have openly rejected the bill on several television talk shows.

Ridiculing the bill, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chief of Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI-F) has gone as far as to call for a law to “protect the rights of husbands” in the country.

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) on March 3, had said that Article 6 of the Constitution, which deals with treason, could be applied against the Punjab Assembly for approving a bill without the council’s consent.