Would Disbanding CII Be Counterproductive?
The controversy and resultant social media uproar over ‘proposed’ recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) have pushed many people like me to get into a rare introspection.
CII’s recent pronouncements – deliberated in a two-day meeting held in Islamabad – caught wild fire. Everyone was outraged and people began to bash the Council that it had proposed regressive and misogynistic recommendations in a model bill for Punjab Assembly’s Women Protection Bill on 26th May 2016. So much so that people began to present arguments in favour of disbanding the CII.
It is worth remembering that it is not the first time that the CII has left many people stunned with unexpected declarations. Many people out there are of the opinion that the Council does not promote a much-needed progressive thought in the country any longer.
Its first controversial pronouncement became news in 2014 when the Council of Islamic Ideology had declared that laws barring child marriage in Pakistan were un-Islamic. It had gone a long way to strike the whole nation with tremendous shock. Moreover, the CII was decorated with a lot of criticism when it ill-advised the government to amend laws that required a man to seek permission from his wife before contracting a second marriage.
Such ‘regressive’ pronouncements – which do not help bring a positive change in the society – have angered everyone. Moreover, such unnecessary and illogical recommendations embarrass the whole nation and people begin to question the purpose of existence of the Council.
There is no gainsaying of the fact that issues of human rights violations are rampant in the country. From early child marriages to acid burning, there are many types of domestic violence. It is a fact that democracy cannot progress unless women – who compose 50% of total population – are blessed with freedom to lead a professional life, participate in politics and make decisions independently. The Council’s anti-women recommendations tend to prevent women from enjoying democratic liberty and that will be detrimental to the social fabric of our country. It is also synonymous to promoting extremism which has already done our nation a lot of harm.
However, in these troubled times when Pakistan is facing a lot of challenges, CII should realize the responsibly to educate people instead of deteriorating the situation. CII must also realize that such short-sighted proposals are likely to jeopardize Pakistan’s image abroad and throw country into troubles at home.
CII treaded on fault lines in proposing a ‘few’ controversial points. However, if one takes pains to go through all the points, one will realize that some of the pressing issues have been boldly addressed. The bill has some strong points for which the CII must be lauded, appreciated and encouraged for highlighting grave social evils confronting women. Let us discuss some of them:
Women will have the right to own and bequeath property
In the proposed bill, the Council of Islamic Ideology has advised the legislature to provide women with the constitutional right to own and bequeath property. Imagine, if such a recommendation is adopted and provincial and federal assemblies legislate laws to protect property rights of women, soon our women would be more independent and thus be able to play a greater role in our patriarchal society. It is one of the foremost rights of a woman and the state must ensure that she acquires a legal share in the property. The present reality is contrary to this.
Contracting a woman’s marriage for vani or dispute resolution is punishable
Perhaps Pakistan is the most notorious of all countries where daughters and sisters are married off without their consent in order to settle a dispute, a practice known as vani (payback). The UN Women website and Sara Zaman’s book ‘Prevention of Anti-Women Practices’ published by Aurat Foundation in 2011, report that forced marriage is one of the gravest issues that plague our social fabric today. Undoubtedly, our resolve for ‘women empowerment’ will be best manifested when we, as a whole nation, pressurize the government to adopt CII’s recommendation to turn this clause into a law.
Ban of honour killing, karo kari and siyah kari
We are scarred for life with countless cases of honour killing in the country. How can we forget the case of Ambreen Riasat who was drugged, maimed and burnt alive by a group of men in the guise of ‘honour killing’ in the village of Makol, just at a distance of 50 km from our heartiest capital of Islamabad? The story has died down into oblivion for good. Do you know why? Was she not another ‘girl in the river’?
Let us stop and stare into what the reality is, in an unbiased way, away from delving into the wildest baloney as to who would safeguard the rights of our women – people on extreme progressive left or extreme conservative right? Shouldn’t we propagate impartiality and harmony to protect the social fabric of our society? Are we not already too late in implementing laws to safeguard the sanctity of our women instead of plunging into our national hobby of futile, unyielding debates?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any other organization with which he might be associated.