The Politics of the Women Rights Bill

Posted on November 16, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Politics, Women
Total Views: 39365


Adil Najam

Also see updated discussion and debate here and here. Hasba Bill discussion here.

Although it still needs to be approved by the Senate to become law, the passage of the Protection of Women Rights Bill by the National Assembly in Pakistan is a surprise and a milestone; even if it is one that leaves everyone concerned less than fully happy.

According to Dawn (16 November, 2006):

The bill… envisages a major relief by transferring the offence of zina-bil-jabr, or rape, from the 1979 Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) to spare a woman an automatic prosecution on the basis of assumed confession if she is unable to prove her charge of rape against a man by producing four witnesses of the crime. Rape will be punishable with 10 to 25 years of imprisonment but with death or life imprisonment if committed by two or more persons together, while adultery under the Hudood ordinance is punishable with stoning to death.

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To check abuse of this ordinance and the Offence of Qazf (Enforcement of Hadd) Ordinance often aimed at settling vendettas and deny women basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, the new bill amends the Criminal Procedure Code to provide that only a sessions court may take cognizance of such a case after receiving a complaint. The offence has been made bailable so the accused do not languish in jails during trial. Police will have no authority to arrest any one in such cases without a sessions court’s directive, which can be issued only to compel attendance in court or in the event of a conviction.

The new amendment moved on Wednesday by the law and justice minister provided for an imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of Rs. 10,000 for the offence of fornication, or consensual sex of the unmarried. But in what an opposition source called a ‘firewall’ built around it, the amendment provides for a similar punishment for an accuser failing to prove the charge and bars converting zina and rape cases under other laws into fornication complaints at any stage.

The provision about fornication, which the amendment originally described as ‘lewdness’, was one of the three recommendations made for inclusion in the bill in an agreement that PML president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi reached with the committee of ulema in September. The two other recommendations of that agreement not incorporated in the bill had called for making an offence of rape liable to hadd if it met the required criterion of evidence and that the Quran and Sunnah “shall have effect notwithstanding anything contained in any other law ” in interpreting and applying the Zina Ordinance.

Issues of womens’ rights has been a fiery ones and this bill has been mired in controversy from the beginning.

It is clear that the major proponents of change in laws believe that too many political compromises have been made by the government. According to a story in the Daily Times (16 November, 2006):

Hundreds of women rights activists on Wednesday held a demonstration outside Parliament House, denouncing the government’s “slack approach” on the Women’s Protection Bill (WPB) and demanding a total repeal of the Hudood Ordinance. The protestors demanded the government grant recommendations of the National Commission on the Status of Women and they rejected the amendments to the original bill, which they claimed were introduced at the behest of mullahs.

They claimed that the government had succumbed to the pressure of mullahs by accepting their amendments, which would knock the bottom out of the bill and make it meaningless. They held placards and shouted slogans, calling for the elimination of the Hudood Ordinance and condemning mullahs for “treading on human rights in the name of religion”. They said that the amended WPB would bring no relief to women and that the “mullah-recommended amendments” would make the situation from bad to worse.

They warned the government against “playing politics in the name of women”, who, they said, were already vulnerable to social injustice and domestic violence. Kashmala Tariq, a member of the National Assembly, also joined the protest and criticised the role of the NA Select Committee for amending the bill. She said the mullahs wanted to blackmail the government by an “abortive attempt” to play on the issue of the WPB.

At the same time, its opponents believe that the bill is a “shameful act.” However, the MMA leadership which had threatened to resign en masse if the bill were passed, has not yet done so. According to The News (16 November, 2006):

“We will not take any decision in haste to quit the national and provincial assemblies,” opposition leader in the National Assembly and MMA Secretary-General, Maulana Fazlur Rehman told newsmen at the Parliament House after staging a walkout from the House. “We will not tolerate any law against the injunctions of the Holy Qur’aan and Sunnah,” he said, adding that the MMA might give a call for a countrywide movement against the passage of the bill.

Meanwhile, in a rather bizarre display of theatrics, Chaudhry Shujaat – the leader of the ruling PML(Q) – has said that if the bill turns out to be contrary to Islamic teachings he would resign. The MMA views this as a sign of confusion within government ranks. According to a different story in Dawn (16 November, 2006):

President of Pakistan Muslim League (PML) Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain created a stir in the National Assembly on Wednesday by handing his resignation to Speaker But the Speaker returned the resignation to the PML chief before the house passed the Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, promising to consider it later… “I have been assured that there is nothing against the Quran and Sunnah in the bill,” the PML president said. But he said he would relinquish his lower house seat “if it comes out after its passage” that the bill was contrary to the Quran and Sunnah.

It is quite clear, however, that Gen. Pervez Musharraf views this bill as a major achievement and something that he wants to be remembered by. He appeared on national television soon after the passage of the bill. Indeed, as this account from Dawn (16 November, 2006) points out, he was a principal reason why this was passed in the current shape:

The government rushed a signal women’s rights bill through the National Assembly on Wednesday amid a boycott by religious parties and some drama after the draft survived a prolonged controversy and an apparent last-minute intrigue. Slogan-chanting members of the Muttahida Majlis-Amal (MMA) walked out of the house in protest before the vote on the Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Rights Bill, which they said was contrary to Islamic injunctions about punishments for zina (adultery and rape). But, they appeared wavering in carrying out an earlier threat to resign from parliament.

The People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPP), the main opposition party, gave a rare support to the ruling coalition in passing the bill, which seeks to protect women from the widely complained misuse of the controversial Hudood ordinances about zina (adultery and rape) and qazf (false accusation of zina) enforced in 1979 by the then-military ruler General Mohammad Ziaul Haq. Members of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, a PPP ally in the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy, spoke with the MMA against the bill but abstained from the walkout as well as the voice vote, which had no shouts of `no’ after the MMA stormed out unconvinced by a low-key government-sponsored amendment to the draft that was approved by a special house select committee in September but put off by a controversy over whether it conformed to the Quran and Sunnah.

Government spokesmen had earlier said the bill, taken up on Wednesday about two months after it was put on ice because of the controversy, would be passed by Friday. But the ruling coalition, led by the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), decided to finish the job in one day after President Pervez Musharraf apparently gave a pep talk to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and other party leaders at a dinner meeting on Tuesday night.

In what looked another attempt to ditch the bill, opposition leader and MMA secretary-general Maulana Fazlur Rehman called for postponing the vote after his denunciation of the bill as a `shameful’ attempt to alter the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah and to turn “Pakistan into a free sex zone” failed to cut any ice with the ruling coalition and met with strong rebuttals from Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sher Afgan Khan Niazi, Law and Justice Minister Mohammad Wasi Zafar and PPP’s Sherry Rahman.

Indeed, as the above account suggests, how the bill was passed and who supported it is as big a story as the bill itself. Gen. Musharraf even went as far as thanking the PPP – the major opposition group – for supporting in the government on this bill. A separate News Analysis by Zaffar Abbas in Dawn (16 November, 2006) suggests that this may even spell a new re-alignment in Pakistan’s national politics.

The new and amended version of the Women’s Protection Bill passed on Wednesday may not be a major landmark in the campaign against the country’s anti-women laws, particularly some of the controversial Hudood ordinances… [However,] the passage of the women’s rights bill has opened up new avenues for possible readjustments amongst the political groupings, and may pave the way for redrawing of the political battle-lines in the run up to the 2007 general elections. So, if efforts were already being made for some kind of realignment on the basis of political beliefs, if not ideology, the bill may provide the right excuse to give them a decisive push. In some ways, the passage of this bill could be a watershed in the country’s political history, and most parties in parliament seem to be well aware of it.

…Since President Pervez Musharraf wanted the bill to be passed without further amendments, the PML and its allies didn’t have much of a choice but to support the move. Still the Muslim League president, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, indirectly expressed his displeasure by offering to resign if, in his words, anything in the bill was found to be against the teachings of Islam. The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal had earlier threatened to go for extreme action, indicating that its members might resign from parliament if, in the words of Maulana Fazlur Rahman, “such an un-Islamic piece of legislation is passed”. But his speech that marked the opening of the debate, though full of rhetoric about the bill being an attempt to create a free-sex society, was far from threatening. Qazi Hussain, who is believed to be a more radical hardliner among the Islamic alliance leaders, was conspicuous by his absence. And instead of resigning from the assembly, the MMA confined its protest to a token boycott. The PML (N) of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was faced with a tough choice. When the bill was originally tabled some time back, one of the party leaders, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, had hinted that their party might side with the MMA. However, at the time of voting, the PML-N decided to abstain. It was a clear move to express its annoyance over the PPP’s decision to support a government-sponsored bill but without threatening the break-up of the main opposition alliance, ARD.

Perhaps the boldest, and in some ways also the most controversial, move was that of Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party. It was not an easy decision for the party, which for the last many years had been campaigning for Gen Musharraf to step down… But many analysts say by taking such a crucial step Ms Bhutto has also sent an indirect message to Gen Musharraf and his backers about her renewed willingness to explore the possibility of a realignment on the basis of liberals and moderates taking on the Islamists in the next elections.

…the passage of the women’s rights bill by the National Assembly may have unfolded a new and perhaps a more treacherous round of politics in the coming weeks and months. How politics in the run up to the election shapes up could be anybody’s guess, but as things stand today, General Musharraf doesn’t look like a loser.

The debate on the substance as well as on the politics of this bill remains in flux, remains incomplete and will no doubt continue. It is a debate worth keeping an eye on. Certainly to see if it does actually impact Pakistan politics as some are suggesting; but much more to ensure that it does in fact, improve the state of womens’ rights in Pakistan and does not end up as mere political lip-service.

Also see updated discussion and debate here and here.

78 Comments on “The Politics of the Women Rights Bill”

  1. ayesha says:
    November 16th, 2006 12:39 am

    A very welcome development. For once there is something real to thank Musharraf for. True enough that women empowerment in Pakistan has a long way to go yet – but the first big step has been taken. Also, the noises coming out now about possible political realignments are promising too. Time will tell the rest.

    Btw – your very last link does not seem to be working.

  2. Owais Mughal says:
    November 16th, 2006 1:53 am

    There is a definite political realignment going on behind the scenes, which is a bigger story than the story of passage of bill itself. Pres Musharraf, PPP. MQM and Pakhtoonkwa Milli Awami party (who has seen its influence eroded big time to MMA in Pashto belt of Baluchistan) saw themselves aligned together on this issue.

    PML(Q) as always played double role or turncoat attitiude and got some concessions out of MMA.

    MMA who has been threatening to quit enmasse from assemblies for many months now haven’t got the courage to do so yet.

    PML(N) emerges as a loner in this game. Nobody left for them to side with.

  3. November 16th, 2006 2:11 am

    MMA passed Hasba bill in NWFP, Opposition called it “Molvi’s Martial law”

    The govt passed Women Protection Bill just after two days, Opposition[MMA here] called its a western influence and legal execuse to promote “Fahashi”.

    Once again it’s proved that Left Hand Side=Right Hand Side- May we getrid of both cabals soon-ameen

  4. Eidee Man says:
    November 16th, 2006 2:13 am


    there may be a realignment going on, but it probably does not have anything to do with this bill. The Musharraf government knew that even if they were on extremely bad terms with the PPP, they could still count on them on this issue.

  5. TURAB says:
    November 16th, 2006 3:30 am

    Lets give some thanks and praise where its due despite all differences. Women need more rights and better representation in our country period.

    However, here is an interesting take on the Hasba Bill by Ismail Khan

  6. drpak says:
    November 16th, 2006 5:25 am

    While the laws had been ostenably labelled “Islamic”, there is nothing Islamic about them at all. It astonishes me how the law could ever have been introduced in the first place. It says a lot about the apathy and backwardness of our so-called “islamic scholars” that a law such as this survived due to their protection for so long.

    The injunction of the Quran pertaining to 4 witnesses is with regard to adultry. The Quran stipulated that if a woman was accused of adultry, the only way that it may be proved is if 4 people of good moral standing witnessed the event. If the accuser failed to provide 4 witness, the accuser was to be punished for slandering the woman. This obviously works in favour of the woman as a charge of adultry would be next to impossible to prove. Rape was never brought into the picture by the whole “4 witnesses” business. Somehow, through the hard work of our ignorant islamic “scholars” the law was perverted to oppress woman and maintain the status quo of the (entirely unislamic) degradation of women in society. This is a product of staggering ignorance and incompetence, a black mark on our country’s legal history and one which future generations will find difficult fathom.

  7. drpak says:
    November 16th, 2006 5:37 am

    In case it wasn’t clear, I was referring to the original Hudood Law in my condemnation in the previous post, not of course, the newly revised version of the Hudood Law.

    The verses from the Quran I was referring to read as follows (Surah 24, Verses4-9)

    “Those who accuse honourable women and bring not four witnesses as an evidence [for their accusation], inflict eighty stripes upon them, and never accept their testimony in future. They indeed are transgressors. But those who repent and mend their ways, Allah is Ever-Forgiving and Most-Merciful.”

  8. Eidee Man says:
    November 16th, 2006 6:03 am

    I agree with drpak’s statement that there is nothing Islamic about the laws that were repealed. In cases like these, I’m glad Muslims do not have the equivalent of a pope or Catholic church….this gives us at least some room to go back and revise previous follies or in this case deliberate fabrication of the law…’s extremely difficult for a central authority to do a U-turn on its policies.

  9. Amra says:
    November 16th, 2006 8:29 am

    It says a lot for the moral state of a country when laws like these have been passed and in place for so long. How can we then respond to critics when they say that Islam subjugates women? In the case of this law this was indeed true – although it was not the fault of Islam but the so called learned Ullemas/officials who seem to have so much influence. Even though we read and react to this law, none of us can imagine the full implication of it’s depravity. Perhaps we should ask those who have had the misfortune to come up against it, what they think.

  10. November 16th, 2006 8:35 am

    The passage of the bill should indeed be a welcome development.

    Meanwhile, reading about the alignments and re-alignments aimed solely at election victories, I’ve realised that politics in Pakistan is as interesting (or is ‘entertaining’ the right word?), as it is here in India… :D

  11. MQ says:
    November 16th, 2006 8:53 am

    [quote]” For once there is something real to thank Musharraf for.” [/quote]

    Yes, it is a good development, even though very small, but as someone said “Ground of liberty is gained by inches.”

    I think the real people who need to be thanked for this achievement are individuals and groups like HRCP, WAF and several other women’s and Human Rights groups who have been continuously agitating against this bill. And, yes, Mukhtaran Mai who made the whole world focus on this blatantly cruel, unjust and an atrocious law passed in the name of the religion. No matter how you look at it, Hudood Ordinance was a blot on the name of Islam.

    Regarding the role of the Beard Brigade and their threats of resignations they will never resign. These are empty threats. Once you allow a fox access to the chicken coup how do you expect her to leave it and go away when the coup is still full of chickens.

    And for those who have been protecting this inhuman bill, my suggestion is they need to be put on the “Karachi Dream Cruise” and sent sailing — towards the high seas.

  12. Yahya says:
    November 16th, 2006 9:53 am

    [quote comment="10184"]And for those who have been protecting this inhuman bill, my suggestion is they need to be put on the “Karachi Dream Cruise” and sent sailing — towards the high seas.[/quote]

    or better yet find a new homeland at the bottom of the Arabian sea.

  13. November 16th, 2006 10:47 am

    I know I repeat this every few days, but it is very necessary that it is repeated again and again and again:

    Pakistan’s founding father Mr. Mahomedali Jinnah esq., Of Lincoln’s Inn, Barrister, and the Quaid-e-Azam. declared:

    No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you. We are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our women have to live. You should take your women along with you as comrades in every sphere of life.”

    Jinnah March 10, 1944

  14. MQ says:
    November 16th, 2006 11:25 am

    Forget that you are a Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian or a Jew. Just read this Hudood Ordinance dispassionately. Does it make any sense to equate a heinous crime like rape with adultery. Is it possible for a rape victim to produce 4 upright, good Muslim men as eye witnesses to the crime? (Come to think of it, what kind of good Muslims those witness would be if they had been silently watching the whole scene without even raising their little finger?)

    If ever a law was made by some depraved minds, this was it.

  15. November 16th, 2006 11:34 am

    Can any enlightened and moderate soul here tell me that does new bill cover the following:

    -Banning of KAROKARI and VANI and give severe punishments to all fudals who supervise this customs.

    - Banning of Watta SATTA marriage

    - Banning of Honour Killings

    - Sexual harassment in Offices by non-Mullah educated people.

    - Dowry

    etc etc.

    If this bill covers all these things then in my opinion its a good change but if it doesn’t then save your energy for other future rants because majority of women in Pakistan become victim of above mentioned issues rather rape.

  16. November 16th, 2006 11:36 am

    sequel of last post- Otherwise this bill will be a political game between lefts and rights.

  17. Yasmin says:
    November 16th, 2006 1:45 pm

    Someone forwarded me this story. I am glad you wrote it. Also explored the site and like it too.

    On this law, I hope it is for real but suispect it is a political gimmicck. Also, I am not ready to thank Gen. Mush just yet. It is only words and he has given up so many things on this. WHy not scrap the entire Zia law which was just plain wrong.

  18. Zak says:
    November 16th, 2006 2:45 pm

    As much as I think the bill is a good thing, in that it provides another nail in the coffin of the Ziaist republic (what did Ijaz ul haq vote for?) the fact that it required so much political capital to get through ..reflects poorly on the growing inertia amongst Musharrafs supporters. Also the high number of his own party MNAs who avoided voin doesn’t speak much for his base either.

    There is a bit of historical irony with Fazlur Rehman being escorted out of the Assembly. Some 30 years ago it was his father and Chaudhry Shujaats father being “escorted (more like thrown) out by the speaker at the time of ZABs first government.

  19. November 16th, 2006 7:08 pm

    Let’s not read too much in the passage of “Women Rights Billâ€

  20. ayesha says:
    November 16th, 2006 10:46 pm

    New developments: Bill to ban Quran Marriage

  21. Daktar says:
    November 16th, 2006 11:43 pm

    Like many others I am also of two minds. I am glad this passed, it is at least a step forward. But it is too small a step and Musharraf has really not done as much as he coudl or should have in pushing for bigger and more real change. But at least the direction is the right one.

  22. November 16th, 2006 11:44 pm

    that new development[s] were forwarded by Ch.Shujat, NOT by the dedicated comittie and If I go in further depth that the points i mentioned above + Quran marrying were forwarded by “Madarassag Mullahas” not by educated enlightentened souls from Oxford,MIT and Stanford.

  23. November 16th, 2006 11:50 pm

    This from today’s Daily Times:

    Caption: PML women workers giving sweets to Federal Minister Sumaira Malik to celebrate the passage of the Women’s Protection Bill. APP

  24. November 16th, 2006 11:56 pm

    For all those who have been singing praises of Musharraf and declaring a hero and pro Women rigghts activisits, I would like to send them in past, an year back when mush made a classical sick statment about Dignity of a woman.

    “You must understand the environment in Pakistan. This has become a money-making concern,” he said.

    “A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped.”

    Source BBC

    Do you believe a person with such mentality would do anything in favor of women. If yes then either you guys are tooo naive or too ignorant that you just want to throw out anything which has a keywords like “Shariah” or “Islam”.

    The funny part is that NGOs who are favoring Mush now were cursing him when he made statment against rape victims like Mukhtar mai and Dr.Shazia.

    This is why I don’t consider NGOs sincere with women neither I consider Musharraf a sincere soul to this country or woman. See in the pic, how same women activists protesting against Musharraf =)

  25. November 17th, 2006 1:24 am

    SiduSaheb,speaking of women rights, I would like to learn that what Indian govt is doing to deal with following issues in India?

    Genocide of India’s daughters

    Missing: 50 million Indian girls

    Domestic Violence

  26. Samdani says:
    November 17th, 2006 2:02 am

    I agree with the general view that any forward movement is good but I also think that too many compromises have been made to the religious parties here and I suspect that more will be made later. I think the womens rights group are correct in protesting about the fact that the Bill is too watered down. The progressive forces are correct in keeping up the pressure and not being taken in with these cosmetic changes.

  27. PatExpat says:
    November 17th, 2006 2:49 am

    Can anyone tell me why the following six recommendations of ulema committee were not included in the Women’s Protection Bill. Was it just because they were proposed by some madrassah ulema’s:

    [quote post="417"]The six recommendations includes provisions on women’s share in inheritance, elimination of un-Islamic customs of sale and purchase of women, forced marriages, marriages with the holy Quran, watta satta (a marriage between two pairs of brothers and sisters), vani and swara (exchanging women to settle family disputes) and triple talak (a practice in which a man divorces his wife by saying, “I divorce youâ€

  28. MQ says:
    November 17th, 2006 7:11 am

    It is clear Musharraf is playing politics with this bill. He has been in power for seven years now. If he really wanted to protect women’s rights he could have scrapped the Hudood bill in year one. After all he changed the constitution, and scrapping the bill did not require a great effort. Neither it required any constitutional changes.

    However the small changes that have been made in the bill, under the incessant pressure of human rights and women’s rights groups, are important for two reason:
    One, the new law separates rape from adultery. And secondly, it has demolished the much touted myth that Hudood law was God’s law and therefore could not be touched. Now everyone knows it was a man-made law and a terrible law.

    The ultimate aim of Pakistani civil society, however, should be to work for the total repeal of Hudood laws along with several other bad laws made in the name of religion.

    “Chalay chalo keh woh manzil abhi nahiN aayee” (Faiz)

  29. Umera says:
    November 17th, 2006 1:16 pm

    Please can someone explain to me why people think this bill is not important? Because it does not do enough? yes, it doesn’t, but as they say Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    Is this all a political gimmick? Absolutely, but then what isn’t?!

  30. Daktar says:
    November 17th, 2006 3:40 pm

    Umera, I DO think the bill is important. I am not convinced that it is enough.

  31. Mantra says:
    November 17th, 2006 8:45 pm

    Sort of an answer to Adnan’s question:

    As far as vani is concerned , a bill was already passed a while back.

    In any event, the “offensive” rural customs will not disappear until the ability to communicate the law (and the mores behind it) and enforce it is there.

    As far as Hudood Allah/Zia is concerned, hopefully the government can clean up the mess it made. Though, the jury is till out on that one.

  32. Kabir says:
    November 17th, 2006 9:47 pm

    To eliminate the “Hudood Ordinence” from its roots is not that simple. One has to applaud Mushy for taking this step and doing it in a democratic way (that may look like political) in fact it is ingenious.

    So one step at a time. Mushy has already indicated about more bills to be passed for women rights and the day will come InshaAllah that we will eliminate the Hudood Law completely.

    However it does show the true face of MMA (& their supporters) that how much they “really” care about our sisters & daughters. This should be an eye opener for some.

  33. Adnan Siddiqi says:
    November 17th, 2006 10:45 pm

    I can’t claim but I do feel strongly that govt will not propose any bill which is against Pakistani politicians fudals. A person like Mush who have no respect of women don’t sound good when talk about women rights but maybe its all about his enlightened and moderation. *shrug*.

    I hope so called NGO devilss should up now and stop whining about *women rights* since their bill is passed and they are exchanging mithais

  34. Owais Mughal says:
    November 17th, 2006 11:03 pm

    I saw this interesting photo at yahoo news site:

  35. Umera says:
    November 18th, 2006 1:33 am

    [quote comment="10499"] I hope so called NGO devilss should [shut] up now and stop whining about *women rights* since their bill is passed and they are exchanging mithais[/quote]

    Adnan, interestingly, this says more about your stand on the issue than anything else you have ever written.

    Daktar, agreed that the bill does not go far enough but it is a start and hopefully we as a civil society would be able to built on this to achieve a more profound change.

  36. drpak says:
    November 18th, 2006 4:39 am

    It’s sad that when such a step has finally been taken by Musharraf’s government, people are not complaining that he’s “playing politics” or that he hasn’t done enough or if he has, he should have done it sooner.

    If the change in Hudood ordinace is to have any sort of permanance, it must be changed with the maximum degree of consensus possible (ie, as democratically as possible). It takes time to build such a consensus, hence the long debate that Geo TV aired on the issue (I’m very sure the government asked them to take it up to raise public awareness of the issue) and the months of political wrangling over the issue.

    Even now, the Bearded Brigade is all set to resign from parliment in protest and will no doubt try to stir up trouble in the streets. In a country with a history of religious unrest such as our own, any changes that appear on their surface to challenge islamic precepts has to be tackled very carefully. I am sure Musharraf would have approached this issue long ago, but the polarizing effect of 9/11, the Afghan invasion, then the Iraq invasion left him with no political space to take on the bearded brigade. Even now, the bearded brigade has a lot of clout (borne of the public anger against Musharraf for complicity with the Americans over the Afghan war) but he still took a political risk and got the bill passed.

    I think we need to look at the amendments in their historico-political context to really understand the government’s actions viz-a-viz this bill over the last few years.

    I don’t for one moment believe that women around Pakistan are waking up feeling liberated all of a sudden, but this is a very important step in the right direction. The journey is long, but at least we have started to make it.

  37. November 18th, 2006 2:53 pm

    Especially for those interested in the theological content of the Bill and its history, may I suggest two recent posts by friends of ATP.

    First, Ali Eteraz has an amazingly comprehensive set of resources, including a chronology, on this issue at his new website, which is worth a visit anyhow. See here.

    Umera also has a set of informative posts on the subject and related issues, including this detailed exposition.

  38. Roshan Malik says:
    November 18th, 2006 5:32 pm

    ‘To resign or not to resign’is MMA dilemma. I think MMA is left with no option than to Resign as their credibility will shake if they dont resign.

    But the question is to look into the political chaos in Pakistan after resignations. The government has postponed the session for next four months in order to undermine this debate in the parliament. But surprisingly PML(Q)leadership is indirectly isntigating MMA to resign by accusing ‘MMA wont resign’.

    I believe PPPP has capitalized maximum benifit out of all this situation as it got the credit to bring amendments in Hadood Ordinance and is busy in mobilizing its workers for the preparations of BB’s return in Pakistan.

  39. MQ says:
    November 18th, 2006 8:16 pm

    Does anyone know how did Imran Khan vote on the WPB?

  40. Mariam says:
    November 18th, 2006 8:59 pm


    Truly, my sentiments. This is nothing but a Dictator prolonging his tenure. Why we are not hearing about elections in Pakistan? Now I hear Blair is in Pakistan with huge aid package (or reward). Now I wonder is it really going to benefit the masses or as usual pocketed by corrupt officials.

  41. Yahya says:
    November 18th, 2006 9:03 pm

    [quote comment="10703"]Does anyone know how did Imran Khan vote on the WPB?[/quote]

    Abstained/boycotted. Yep, the famous play boy with alleged out-of-wedlock child in California did not think the bill was Islamic. Hmmmm…

  42. Mantra says:
    November 18th, 2006 9:32 pm

    @ Adnan,

    well, it’s true Mush won’t take on the feudals but they are not the only problem and they aren’t connected to the problem with Hudood.

  43. Mariam says:
    November 18th, 2006 10:56 pm

    Here is a picture of Women with Ansar Burney whoes life are made miserable by the Hudood ordinance.

    P.S. I’m unable to link a text.

  44. Mariam says:
    November 18th, 2006 11:10 pm

    Here is a picture of Women with Ansar Burney whoes life are made miserable by the Hudood ordinance.

    P.S. Resubmitting a comment as first time couldn’t able to submit a link.

  45. November 18th, 2006 11:41 pm

    I thought this is a rather interesting picture… In line with the two other posted in the comments section here, but interesting at other levels too:

    The picture is from Daily Times, and the caption reads: “Women present flowers to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz during a ceremony to celebrate the passage of the Women’s Protection Bill at the PM Secretariat.

  46. Adnan Siddiqi says:
    November 19th, 2006 1:57 am

    Umera, That’s all you could say? Thers is nothing between lines. My view is clear from the day one. If you prefer to live in an imaginary world then carry on, it doesn’t irk anyone at all.

    Mantra, majority of Pakistani politicians belong to Fudal community. Pick anyone. Chudaris,maliks,mengals,legharis and the list goes on.

    The bill is 100% directly related with human abuses. Most of our women are raped/abused by sons of some Chudharis or Legharis in distant villages and families of vitcims are forced to stay at home and don’t complain[Read BLASPHEMY by tehmina durrani]. Same community people then send their guys in parliments for elections and bring new laws.

    Now the question is, will Sameera malik impose new law[or extensions of WPB] in her native town?. will nisar khoro, makhdoom ameen and khar type people will permit to impose the new law in their areas? In pakistan, laws are made for poors not for powerful. Try to make a visit near boatbasin karachi, No police wala has guts to stop a car there for illegal driving and other traffic violation laws because most of youth who drive the car belong to some fudal, some Sect/beauraucrat etc etc.

    The sissy attitude of our learned people from famous insititutes around the world can’t solve local issues at all unless they try to make attempts to realize core issues. If musharraf is all acceptable coz he appears in some US comedy shows and write a book and a good speaker then I believe Moin Akhtar or Anwar Maqsood could be a still better choice for our Pakistani politics. Face the ground realities rather living in illusionary world.

    @adilBhai: I think daily times didn’t take the next snap after handing roses to shortcut aziz. Maybe because they recently passed a women *Islamic* bill and try to potray themselves as *saints* for few weeks ;)

  47. Yahya says:
    November 19th, 2006 10:11 am

    I love this picture after passing of Husba bill;

    Obviously the Molvi in the front is keen to show his true feelings to the opponents.

  48. Zubaida says:
    November 19th, 2006 11:43 am

    I think we have established that the bill is a good first step, but not enough. The thing now is to keep pushing and keep moving and use the momentum to get more and more important parts passed. I hope Musharraf will not bow to the pressure being put by MMA through these threats of resigning and other things. Since is the time to keep moving forward with more.

  49. Yusuf says:
    November 19th, 2006 1:29 pm

    I believe that even if he abstained his leanings have become more pro-MMA and it is sad that he would not see the principle of this, that he sees his desire to remove Musharraf as being mor eimportant than something this basic. I think the PPP has taken a more principled position here, although they also have their political calculations that made this decision easier. This is also a bad political move for Imran. He will not win any religious types by this and he will lose teh support of the few more progressive types he has.

  50. MQ says:
    November 19th, 2006 12:20 pm


    Thanks for the information.
    I am truly disappointed at how Imran Khan voted on this bill. Somehow, I thought he was probably one of the few politicians who would be honest (intellectually) and upright but it turns out he has not made up his mind yet whether he wants to be a Mullah or a Moderate.

  51. drpak says:
    November 19th, 2006 1:18 pm

    That’s a very poor show from Imran Khan. He seems to be a sincere person, but he has the weirdest ideas on many things. I remember when the 2005 earthquake occured, he did a lot of work for the people there, but he was full of criticism for the government. He thought Musharraf personally should have been in balakot managing the crisis, which is pretty stupid.

  52. Yahya says:
    November 19th, 2006 1:57 pm
  53. Adnan Siddiqi says:
    November 19th, 2006 2:21 pm

    I’m surprised to see the ladies in the main post link and others who are supporting musharraf that they had completly forgot what musharraf had passed the remarks for Mukhataran mai[ref:see here] and hhe’s being praised and thanked by *ladies*.

    Perhaps the definitions of “Ghairat” and “Dignity of a Woman” is different among liberals than the one find in dictionary[Lughat]. *shrug*

  54. Adnan Siddiqi says:
    November 19th, 2006 2:31 pm

    [quote post="417"]He thought Musharraf personally should have been in balakot managing the crisis, which is pretty stupid[/quote]

    why is it stupid man? Could you elaborate?

  55. Judith S. says:
    November 20th, 2006 10:50 am

    It has been a long and hard fight for those who have wanted these laws repealed. Although victory has not yet come you are now closer to it. It is testimony to the courage and persistence of the men and women of Paksitan that even this change has come about. I hope history will remember the grace and strength of those who have worked for these and more changes.

    By the way, I am very impressed by the disucssion here and also the fact that at least here most people at agree that the laws were unfair.

  56. Hassan says:
    November 20th, 2006 4:01 am

    Here is the take Imran seems to have adopted, saying NO to BOTH Hasba and the Rights Bill. I am not sure they cancel each other out. From DAWN today:

    PESHAWAR, Nov 19: Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan on Sunday rejected both the Protection of Women’s Rights Bill and the Hasba Bill and said that both the bills had been adopted with ulterior motives; the former to divide opposition parties the latter to establish a parallel judicial system.
    The Protection of Women’s Rights Bill, he said, had been passed to introduce a ‘made-inWashington Islamic system in the country. It is also aimed at dividing the opposition parties. If a law related to women had been in place for more than 26 years, why it was not allowed to continu for one more year?â€

  57. Haroon Munshi says:
    November 23rd, 2006 2:50 pm

    I wish the government would use this opportunity to put all the ammendments and changes on the table in one go. The moment is good to strike. MMA is already angry but they will get over it and it will be better than trying to get a new debate going again later.

  58. Yahya says:
    November 20th, 2006 8:34 am

    I suspect Imran’s situation is much simpler and it is personal. He wants his last “chakkaâ€

  59. Adnan Siddiqi says:
    November 20th, 2006 1:03 pm

    Judith I don’t know who you’re and what’s your profile so I am kinda hesitent to consider your view credible as I am not sure what you know about hudood law or anything related with Islam. If your source of learning is not people like pat robertson or Ann coulter then you could be taken seriously otherwise I would prefer not to take you seriously like few of my paki fellows here.

    Please don’t label me an Islamist Extreemist just because I am not agreeing with you. It’s all about democracy and beauty of democracy is that I’m free to disagree with others even with myself anytime. Hope you wouldn’t get mad and would shed few words about your thoughts about Islam and *shariah* which you guys often misinterpetet by the words *fatwa* and *Jihad*.

  60. drpak says:
    November 20th, 2006 3:09 pm

    [quote comment="11058"]Judith I don’t know who you’re and what’s your profile so I am kinda hesitent to consider your view credible as I am not sure what you know about hudood law or anything related with Islam.[/quote]

    So because her name doesn’t sound “islamic” you assume she doesn’t know anything about Islam? Her view is ‘credible’ in as much as it is her own view. It doesn’t have to more anymore credible than that.

  61. MQ says:
    November 20th, 2006 9:20 pm

    Folks,sometime back while discussing “Lahore, Lahore aye” we talked about the Lahoris’ sense of humor — irrepressible and hilarious. I didn’t realize how hilarious it can be until the other day when I was talking to an old-time friend in Lahore over the phone and he told me this.

    My friend informed me that the mullahs have now decided, after successfully taking over a sizable part of the TV programs on private channels and making full use of the Internet, to penetrate the film industry. It is better, they think, to join the industry rather than burning down cinema houses and tearing down movies posters. They would now make movies with clean content and decent names. Here are the titles of some of the movies, which, my friend said, are under production:

    1. Tahajjad guzaar Hasina
    2. Maseet meray veer di (Punjabi)
    3. Islam aaya tum nahiN aaye
    4. Ziddi Maulvi (Punjabi)

  62. bhindigosht says:
    November 20th, 2006 10:10 pm

    Here are two more movies for your list:)
    - Bhooka roza
    - Moulvi 420

  63. November 21st, 2006 12:37 am

    [quote post="417"]So because her name doesn’t sound “islamicâ€

  64. Judith S. says:
    November 22nd, 2006 10:27 am

    Friends, I am sorry to have come in the middle of your arguments. I dont want to call anyone Islamic extremist and I hope I did not sound as if I was, but I also dont want anyone making any assumptions about me please.

  65. Adnan Siddiqi says:
    November 22nd, 2006 11:59 am

    JudithS, if you read again then you’ll realize that I was not making any assumption about you. The thing is that gora people[westerners] have disputed themselves a lot by talking enough crap against Islam and Muslim that sometimes it gets difficult to consider gora people unbais and eager to seek truth. See even Ms.Armstrong struggles a lot when she visits a muslim country like Pakistan and she puts extra effortt to prove herself unbais. In the presence of crazy elements like Pontiff Benedict, muslims would considers gora a ‘threat* despite of that gora person sound reasonable and unbais.

    So don’t worry and shed your words so that we could learn more what you think about Islam or about this ex Hudood law which is not even understood by our educate class.

  66. MQ says:
    November 22nd, 2006 12:47 pm

    [quote]“Friends, I am sorry to have come in the middle of your arguments.” [/quote]

    Judith S.

    No, you did not come in the middle of our argument. Someone else did. In fact, you had made a sensible comment that echoed the feelings of many of us.

    I am sure you know that in a discussion like this, other than the well meaning and serious discussants, there are always two other types. One is what is called a “windbag” and the other is the “heckler”. Communication experts say the motivation in both cases is to seek attention. Therefore, I would rather ignore any such intruders.

    Please do continue to participate in discussions of your choice.

  67. Adnan Siddiqi says:
    November 22nd, 2006 8:07 pm

    [quote post="417"]One is what is called a “windbagâ€

  68. November 23rd, 2006 1:47 am

    is it enlightment & moderation or demonstration of mental slavery? I know such mental slave exist on this forum as well *sigh*

  69. Umera says:
    November 24th, 2006 7:59 am

    Does anybody know where one can get copy of the entire “women protection bill”? Lawyers in Pakistan don’t have it and it seems like everything is based on speculation, the debate on what has been added and what has not been added etc. I am sure press must have seen the copy because they say in very clear terms what is being done.

    However, my extensive search has not resulted in the copy. If anyone has the copy and can provide me the same.

  70. November 24th, 2006 1:24 pm

    [quote post="417"]Does anybody know where one can get copy of the entire “women protection billâ€

  71. Faheem Sultan says:
    November 24th, 2006 5:20 pm

    Nice site and important topics.

    I think mention should also be made of the GEO TV ‘zara sochiaye’ campaign that was very useful in creating the space for this to happen. See their new add which says this is only the beginning and calls for more change.

  72. ayesha says:
    November 29th, 2006 11:12 pm



  73. November 30th, 2006 12:13 am

    ayesha what’s wrong in discussion? what maked you pissed?

  74. Ahmed says:
    December 21st, 2006 2:36 am

    Asslamu Alaikum

    My question is that, before debating this issue, have we investigated full Facts???????
    Have we gone to Ulmas to understand their point of view? Have we bothered to study “Hadud Ordinanceâ€

  75. amita says:
    June 4th, 2007 4:51 pm

    can i take one picture for a non-profit use?

  76. PLANETCOP says:
    August 31st, 2007 10:16 am

    .Great Work.

  77. soomro says:
    May 31st, 2008 3:35 am

    i dont know why governments want to regulate personal morals of people.

  78. Watan Aziz says:
    November 15th, 2010 9:59 pm

    It is quite clear, however, that Gen. Pervez Musharraf views this bill as a major achievement and something that he wants to be remembered by. He appeared on national television soon after the passage of the bill.

    … improve the state of womens’ rights in Pakistan and does not end up as mere political lip-service.

    So, once again, joined at the hip, the self-proclaimed religious nuts (deen-dar) and the self-proclaimed fake liberals (dunyia-dar) have managed to make matters worse for women.

    If the evil usurper destroyed the sense of Qur’an and the laws, the enlightened usurper destroyed the sense of common laws.

    Both in their own ways claimed heroic and historic efforts.

    Well, the evil usurper made rape of a woman punishable on woman; the enlightened usurper added the provisions of allegations by a former spouse (almost always a man) accuse his former spouse (almost always a woman) of relationship outside that of marriage can be dragged into a court.

    Astonishing! Bewildering! Confounding!

    Read it for yourself. And I have written about it here, here, and here. (OK, Google it.)

    So, here we go again, these two fake, fraud and phony, smash the people in the middle. Both earn their protection, reward their supplicants and spend their time in merriment.

    One shuts them out in ‘his’ masjid. The other does not want them to speak out in their “policy meetings”.

    And those, who do not bow at the altar of their nonsense, and want to tell them they are wrong, are called “ranters”.

    Well, I will rant.

    I will rave.

    Call me a man possessed, but I am going to call it out again and again, because this “gitter-mitter” crowd does not know which side is up!

    And someone has to rant, again and again.

    Yes, you will be ratted out for wrongs.

    Rant with the soapbox!
    Rave with the ballot box!
    Rescue the jury box!

Have Your Say (Bol, magar piyar say)