Islamabad: Opposition Senator Farhatullah Babar and rights groups have called for the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) to be disbanded, saying the body is irrelevant in presence of the parliament and Federal Shariah Court.
“The council has no powers to overturn any law on the basis of whether it meets the Islamic provisions or not,” Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar told News Lens Pakistan.
The Islamic advisory body’s recent statement that husbands could “lightly” beat their wives sparked debate over its legitimacy.
“If a husband wants his wife to mend her ways then he needs to advise her. If she refuses then stop talking to her … stop sharing a bed with her, and if things do not change, get a bit strict,” CII chairman Sherani told News Lens Pakistan.
He said that light beating means beating with light things like a handkerchief and a hat. He said it does not mean to hit her on the face.
The government of Punjab province has just recently passed women rights protection bill, while efforts are on to table for similar bills in other provincial assemblies such as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Center for Strategic and Contemporary Research (CSCR) outlined the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act (PPWVA) 2016. The women protection act was finally passed by the Punjab Assembly on February 24, 2016.
The prime objective of the PPWVA is to provide justice and to protect women from all type of violence in the province where six women are murdered or attempted to murder, eight are raped, 11 battered and assaulted and 32 are abducted on a daily basis, the CSCR stated.
Babar said that the allocated Rs.100 million funds for the CII should be transferred to National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) instead.
“The CII has no constitutional role to play,” Babar said.
Pakistan already has the National Commission of Human Rights (NCHR) as a powerful, independent and autonomous body, he added.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has condemned the CII recommendations that Islam allows light beating of wives.
The HRCP stated in May: “As much as HRCP wanted not to dignify with any comment the ridiculous CII recommendations regarding ‘light beating’ of women, we think it is imperative that every right-respecting person must condemn such counsel unreservedly.”
Nafreen Azhar, a member of HRCP, said there is no need of the council in presence of the parliament.
“We’re spending huge taxpayers’ money on this body, which is of no use. Because of its statements, intolerance is spreading in the society instead,” Nafreen told News Lens Pakistan.
“The CII was established for a definite period, which has expired and thus there is no need for the body to keep functioning, she said without elaborating that deadline.”
Babar said the country has Federal Shariah Court (FSC) and hence there is no need for the CII to function.
“There is already another body called Federal Shariah Court (FSC), which has the power to strike down a law so there is no need for the council to give an advice,” he added.
“Why should the public money be spent on a body which has lost its utility and it is no longer constitutionally required?”
HRCP member Nafreen said her organization fully endorses Senator Babar to disband the council, which is an additional burden on taxpayers with no active role.
Babar said the council at one point of time recommended that Pakistani flag should be inscribed with Kalma Taiba and Allaho Akbar that it would inspire people to Jihad.
“They have created a sort of environment in the country, which is against the women,” Babar remarked.
He said that these are the reasons that violence and crimes against women are on the rise in the country.
When asked whether PPP would adopt legal measures to disband the council, he said his party with other political parties and civil society would create an environment in which people start seriously questioning the desirability of continuing with this institution.
The CII is largely seen as a saviour by common people when it ruled that indirect taxes are against the teachings of Islam.
Maulana Jamaluddin, a parliamentarian from the JUI-F party, called the CII “a torch-bearer for all Muslims”.
Hamid Wazir, a roadside vendor, said the CII has served no purpose since its creation and is only known for sparking controversies.
The CII was established as an Advisory Council of Islamic Ideology in 1962 under Article 199 of the Constitution.
The Constitution states that the CII’s functions should be to make recommendations to the government on enabling and encouraging Pakistan’s Muslims to live in accordance with the principles and concepts of Islam, and to advise lawmakers whether a proposed law is repugnant to the teachings of Islam.
Currently, the CII has nine members including one woman. They meet to debate any issue when it is referred by the parliament or other institutions, according to CII records.
The chairman earlier told News Lens Pakistan that the council cannot review the law on its own.
“Our mandate to review the law begins when parliament seeks our advice under article 229.”