Clerics agree to join CM’s committee on pro-women legislation


Professor Sajid Mir, Jamat-e-Islami’s Asad Ullah, Maulana Amjad Khan and Jamiat Ulema Islam – Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazal ur Rehman on Monday called on Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and agreed to end the deadlock between government and Ulemas over Women Protection Act.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and Salman Sufi also attended the meeting. During the meeting, the provincial minister tried to remove the religious leaders’ reservations on Women Protection Act and sought suggestions from them.

Maulana Fazalur Rehman expressed displeasure over the fact that Council of Islamic Ideology was not consulted before approval of the pro-women bill, but the CM assured him that his recommendations will be included in the act.

Subsequently, the religious leaders decided to join committee made to monitor implementation of the act.

On the occasion, Shehbaz Sharif said that violence against women is a social reality and no one can deny its existence, however, suggestions of ulemas regarding any correction in the bill will be welcomed by the government. JUI-F chief Moulana Fazlur Rehman will suggest the name of the committee after consultations with the ulemas.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah had written a letter to the religious scholars assuring to address their reservations. The letter stated that the Punjab government can never pass a bill that goes against the teachings of Islam.

The Protection of Women against Violence Bill 2015 criminalises all forms of violence against women, including domestic, sexual, psychological, emotional, economic and verbal.

Under the new law, the provincial government will establish district protection centres, residential shelters and a toll-free helpline for victims of violence.The first centre would start operating in May. The committees have been directed to launch investigation into the matters secretly.

The women protection officer would try to resolve the matter with reconciliation for which teams comprising members of assembly, district coordination officers and victims’ relatives would perform duties. The law also says family courts must hold hearings within seven days of a complaint being made, and a decision must be taken on all complaints within 90 days.

Activists say women in Pakistan face many threats from acid attacks, honour killings to domestic violence, rape and kidnapping.