Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: The Government, which deferred a vote on the Protection of Women Bill on Monday, will present an amended version of the same Bill to the National Assembly on Wednesday.

It decided to redraft the Bill after threats by the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a coalition of six religious parties, to resign en masse from the National Assembly.

The Bill will now include at least three changes that religious scholars suggested would bring it more in line with Islamic law and teachings. The MMA has said it will pronounce its verdict on the acceptability of the Bill only after examining the re-drafted version.

Intended to amend the harsh and grossly misused Hudood laws, especially the ordinances relating to adultery and rape, the Protection of Women Bill was condemned by the MMA.

But confusion reigned on the final shape of the recast Bill. While the Government said the changes to be incorporated were the result of a consensus between itself, religious scholars and the MMA, the religious coalition distanced itself from it.

There was no immediate comment from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a partner in the ruling coalition and a vociferous opponent of Islamic laws, especially the Hudood, which was egging the Government to go ahead and get the Bill enacted as it was.

It had threatened to withdraw support for the Bill if it was changed by "extra-parliamentary" forces.