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Women Protection Bill

20 November, 2006

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The passage of controversial women protection bill has plunged the country into a political crisis as the six-party religious alliance, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) has announced that its legislators will resign from the national assembly in protest against the bill during the next session to be held on December 6 and 7.

The religious parties have termed the bill unislamic, while the government and pro-Musharraf political parties dub that as in accordance with Islam.

Under the bill, the rapist can be sentenced to jail for one day only as the maximum punishment of the rapist is 25 years, while the minimum is not mentioned.

Religious parties fear that this would allow the rich and influential to get off the hook easily and many people will be forced to take the law in hand to punish the rapist.

Analysts believe that the military regime, already shaken by the killing of 80 civilians in a deadly air strike on a seminary in northern tribal area of Bajur on October 30, followed by a suicide attack on an army training center killing 42 recruits, could not afford any large-scale political crisis in the country.

On the other hand, the government has also submitted a draft bill containing various amendments suggested by the religious parties, to the national assembly with a view to quenching the simmering controversy.

Here are some questions
1) Was women protection bill need of the hour and more important than the issues like Karo-Kari, forced marriages, exchange of women to settle feuds, and non-compliance of women`s heir rights?
2) Chaudry Shujjat says if MMA proves this bill unislamic, he will resign. Now, who should be the judge to decide that?
3) Was there any US pressure behind the passage of this bill?
4) Do you think MMA`s resignations would contribute anything positive in this regard?

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