Pakistanis Protest Rape Law Change

Musharraf, a key US ally, changed Pakistani law in July to allow women detained on charges of adultery and other minor crimes to be released on bail.

Pakistanis Protest Rape Law Change
Thousands of Pakistanis took to the streets of the southern city of Karachi on Sunday, November 26, to protest the recent amendment of the 1979 Hudood Ordinance on rape, as a coalition of six religious parties threatened that its MPs would resign next month.

"We'll intensify our protests to mobilize the people to stand against the induction of anti-Islamic laws," Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a central leader of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), a coalition of six religious party, told the rally, reported Agence France Presse (AFP).

Both houses of the Pakistani parliament have recently approved amendments that put the crime of rape under Pakistan's British-influenced secular civil penal code not the Hudood Ordinances, enforced in 1979 by the then military ruler Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq.

The new bill describes adultery instead as lewdness slashing the punishment to imprisonment of up to five years against only male perpetrator.

Under the Hudood code, a man and woman found guilty of having sex outside of marriage could be sentenced to death by stoning or 100 lashes, although that has never been enforced and those convicted of the crime get jail or a fine instead.

The legislation is yet to be signed by President Pervez Musharraf for final corroboration.

Musharraf, a key US ally, changed Pakistani law in July to allow women detained on charges of adultery and other minor crimes to be released on bail.

Hundreds of women were later freed.

Identity

The protestors carried banners and placards, chanting slogans against Musharraf and the US.

They complained that the law aims to change the Asian country's Islamic identity.

"Secular parties have sided with military dictator General Musharraf to change the Islamic identity of Pakistan, which we would not allow," said Ahmed.

Another leader, Liaquat Baloch, slammed the parliament's decision, asserting that MMA lawmakers would resign from their seats next month.

Lawmakers from the six-party alliance of religious parties had walked out of parliament before MPs voted on the new bill.

The introduction of the bill by the government on Monday, August 21, had witnessed the worst pandemonium in Pakistani parliament.

Opposition lawmakers shouted slogans against the government, tore up copies of the amendments and walked out. They accused Musharraf of being a traitor and a friend of America.

"This bill has been passed by General Musharraf to appease his masters in Washington," Baloch said Sunday.

Shortly after 9/11, Pakistan abandoned its support for the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan and became a front-line ally in Washington's so-called war on terror.

The South Asian country has since deployed around 80,000 troops on the rugged border with Afghanistan to hunt pro-Taliban and Al-Qaeda elements.

Musharraf said in an interview released on September 21 that the US blackmailed his country by threatening to bomb it "back to the Stone Age" after the 9/11 attacks unless it supported the war on terror.

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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