Islamist-blokken i Pakistan, MMA, har erklært krig mot regjeringens forsøk på å legge voldtekt inn under sivil strafferett, og ikke sharia.
ONLY 10 days after Pakistan’s military-led Government reformed the country’s medieval rape and adultery laws, Islamabad appeared poised for a major backflip on the issue yesterday in an effort to pacify Islamic fundamentalists who have signed a fatwa against the historic changes.
Hardline Pakistani religious leaders have labelled the reforms «un-Islamic, immoral and unconstitutional» and evidence of «Western values infiltrating society».
In response, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has authorised the Pakistan Muslim League to negotiate with religious scholars and leaders of the powerful Islamic opposition alliance, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), over changes to the rape bill.
The reforms to the rape laws were acclaimed by women’s rights groups in Pakistan and around the world as an overdue change to a system that has long been regarded as an affront to civil liberties.
But as much as it won global plaudits, and the firm backing of President Pervez Musharraf, the bill evoked fury among the Islamic fundamentalist parties that are supportive of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and are seen as a growing threat to the Pakistani Government in elections scheduled for next year.
The MMA, which has strong representation in the central parliament and controls the legislatures in two key provinces, has threatened to lead a mass movement to depose the Government, sparking a serious rethink on the rape laws.
Negotiations over the bill follow two days of fury in mosques across the country, with Muslim priests leading attacks on the changes, denouncing them for their «Western values» and attacking those who supported the reforms.
Under the changes, complaints of rape and adultery will be dealt with under the country’s civil penal code rather than under an obscure Islamic sharia ruling imposed in 1979 that demands that four male witnesses testify before a rape charge can be proved.