May 10th 2014

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Articles from this issue:

CHILD CARE INQUIRY: Should parents or paid strangers raise children?

ECONOMIC AGENDA: Sorting out the confusion over Australia's agricultural exports

EDITORIAL: Is the Coalition government losing its way?

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Joe Hockey's two-phase plan to cut budget deficit

EDUCATION: How contemporary schooling devalues great literature

ENVIRONMENT: PM's top business adviser rejects climate alarmism

HEALTH: Kirby Institute report silent on incidence of AIDS

TRANSPORT: Finding a better solution to our traffic problems

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Russia ups the ante, but faces backlash in Ukraine

LIFE ISSUES: What really happens outside the abortion clinic?

UNITED KINGDOM: Christian arrested in Britain for quoting Bible, wins damages

PAKISTAN: Council of Islamic Ideology 'anti-women': Sindh assembly


CULTURE: Remembering the quality of mercy

BOOK REVIEW: The Tragedy of Liberation, by Frank Dikotter

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Council of Islamic Ideology 'anti-women': Sindh assembly

by a special correspondent

News Weekly, May 10, 2014

A provincial assembly in Pakistan has defied the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), a constitutional body responsible for giving legal advice on Islamic issues to Pakistan’s government and parliament.

The Sindh Assembly rejected what it called “anti-women” recommendations of the council. The CII was against any minimum-age requirement for women to be married and against the use of DNA tests in rape cases. The assembly unanimously adopted a resolution calling on Pakistan’s federal government to do away with the CII, as it was damaging the country.

The Sindh province boasts a population of 50 million, of whom 90 per cent are Muslim, and includes Pakistan’s capital, Karachi.

Several lawmakers from both sides of the aisle signed the resolution, which was read out by Pakistan Muslim League-Functional legislator Mahtab Akbar Rashdi.

The resolution read: “This assembly resolves and recommends to [the] Sindh government to approach the federal government to adopt the following resolution: This House shows its strong reservation on the recent recommendations of Council of Islamic Ideology showing complete indifference and insensitivity to issue pertaining to women, [such as] no minimum age for marriage, recommendation against DNA tests for rape incidents, and [no requirement for a man to gain] the permission of the wife for a second marriage.

“All such recommendations by the Council of Islamic Ideology head are regressive and anti-women. This house therefore strongly recommends that, since this council is unable to perform a positive role, it should be done away with as it is causing more damage than Pakistan can afford.”

In their speeches, the leaders of parliamentary parties in the Sindh Assembly — Nisar Ahmad Khuhro of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Syed Sardar Ahmed of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Irfanullah Marwat of the PML-N and Samar Ali Khan of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf — endorsed the resolution, which was adopted unanimously when put to the vote.

They pointed out that marriage is a contract in which a couple have to give their consent before witnesses. And, according to law, a signatory to any contract ought to be at least 18 years of age.

They emphasised that Islam did not permit child marriage.

DNA testing has helped scientifically to pinpoint culprit involved in rapes, and ensuring a wife’s permission for her husband to marry a second wife was aimed at ensuring justice and harmony among family members, they added.

Mr Ahmed of the MQM pointed out that, according to Article 228 of the Constitution, the purpose of the CII was to make recommendations to the government. Therefore, the government ought to nominate to the council only candidates who have an understanding of law.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Dr Sikander Mandhro congratulated the mover of the resolution. 

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