Pakistan Senate seeks abolition of Islamic council

The Pakistan Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights has sought the dissolution of the constitutionally crafted Council of Islamic Ideology (CCI) on the grounds that several of its actions were inimical to the interests of women.

The Senate committee’s recommendations follow the recent scandalous suggestions made by the council, including an approval of “light beating of the errant wives by their husbands”.

It is not the first time the Council has provoked anger among civil and human rights activists, thanks to its penchant to make recommendations (though not mandatory) which adversely impact the women as well as the minorities in Pakistan.

Some of its rulings are that DNA tests were not acceptable as primary evidence in rape cases and a model bill prohibiting mixing of genders in schools, hospitals and offices. While the Council has been proactive in taking cognisance of complaints under the dreaded blasphemy law , it has refused to entertain pleas for measures to punish those who file false complaints under the law.

Constitutional body

It is a constitutional body, founded during the regime of another military ruler Ayub Khan in 1962, mandated with responsibility for giving legal advice on Islamic issues to the government and the Parliament.

Arguing in favour of its abolition, the Pakistan Senate committee has observed the Council is no longer constitutionally bound to send reports to Parliament for legislation — its final report was filed in 1997.

It also suggested the Council’s Rs100 million annual allocation be redirected to the National Commission for the Status of Women.

Taking note of the Senate Committee recommendation, the Pakistan English daily Dawn, in an editorial on Friday, noted: “Although it is known to flood the airwaves with distorted interpretations of religious and cultural norms, the CII’s recommendations are not constitutionally binding. In a democratic polity, legislators must ensure laws impacting women are passed through parliamentary consensus.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2020 8:12:14 PM |

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