Posted by: Administrator | 17 August, 2006

President Address to Nation on ‘Women Protection Bill’

15 November 2006

Dear brothers and sisters;

Today is the historic day. Today the National Assembly has not only completed four years but it has also passed a historic Women Protection Bill. This is a movement that began in the year 2000.

The bill forms part of the measures taken to ensure empowerment of women, their protection and welfare and these measures will continue. In this regard a large number of people deserve to be congratulated. I first greet the entire Pakistani nation on the passage of the historical bill. We should be proud of it. I want tocongratulate all the women of Pakistan, our mothers and daughters, for whose protection, this bill has been passed.

Thirdly I wish to congratulate the National Assembly, fourthly the Pakistan Muslim League, including the Prime Minister, Ch. Shujaat Hussain and all ministers and MNAs of PML who played a key role in its passage. I also congratulate the coalition partners including MQM, Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Peoples Party Sherpao group, Pakistan Muslim League Functional for supporting the bill. I will also congratulate Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians and PKMAP for their support.

I laud the media who presented several programmes to create awareness among the masses about the Hudood Ordinance. Now I wish to explain the Hudood Ordinance and the Women Protection Bill, as certain elements like MMA are trying to create an impression that the government, God forbid, that the bill is against the Holy Quran and the Sunnah.

All these allegations are baseless and misperceptions. I assure the entire nation that no Pakistani can ever think of enacting a law that is in violation of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah.

This law is fully in conformity with the Holy Quran and the Sunnah and there is no violation of Holy Quran and Sunnah. Now I wish to explain the Hudood Ordinance as many people are talking about it and even on talk shows, but they do not have any knowledge about it.

The Hudood Ordinance has five laws including adultery and rape, second about false allegations, third was prohibition against alcohol, fourth was property related against theft and fifth dealt with whipping. Now I would like to inform you my dear brother and sisters that we have not touched four of these as there was no problem with these and they are part of the Hudood Ordinance.

Only the first part dealing with adultery and rape has been amended keeping in view the principles of justice to protect the women, and I would like to explain it. When I studied and analysed it for the first time I felt shame and sorrow about the injustice we have meted against our mothers, sisters and daughters. How much injustice was done by the society? At that time I decided that there should be a change, as it was our obligation and the right of the women that they should be protected.

It was sheer oppression against them and it was our duty to help them. Only the law dealing with adultery and rape were death with, without touching the other four. About rape gravest injustice was that a woman was raped and she tried to seek justice from the police, without having the four required witnesses, she was arrested on charge of having committed adultery on the charge of rape and was sent behind bars. It was double injustice. One for having been raped and second for being jailed for adultery. It is a matter of shame or not?that is what we were doing with our mothers and daughters. This had to be rectified. Now rape clause has been placed under the PPC. Any woman who has been raped and even if there is no witness or even with one witness, the perpetrator will have to face justice and there will be no more such injustices.

Inshallah the rapist will face justice and there will be no more requirement of presenting four witnesses. Who can have objection to it? Whether is from MMA or any other party? No human, or man who can object to it that we have committed some wrong. About adultery if a man accuses a woman of having committed adultery and he does not have four witnesses, he has an escape route given under the law and automatically can get ten years imprisonment under Tapir. If the raped woman does not bring four witnesses, she has to undergo punishment. However when a man brings a case of adultery against a woman, he does not have to bring in four witnesses. This is again injustice to the women.

Now this has to be rectified or not? He said this was oppression against the women. Under Section 10 of Tapir now the requirement to bring in four witness has now been withdrawn, under which he was given 25 years punishment. Now after abolishing this clause there was a problem and was claimed by certain sections that it could lead to lewdness in the society. Therefore all the legal experts and workers of the Pakistan Muslim League, our assembly members thought there should be a law in the PPC to deal with lewdness in the society. We introduced 496-B in the PPC, under which the perpetrators can face five-year imprisonment for levelling charge of adultery.

Some experts said under the 496-B, there could again be injustice with the women and if there are no four witnesses, she can again get five years imprisonment. Now this had to be tackled and we went for a four-tiered fire walling under which, now the offence has been made non-cognisable and the person cannot be arrested only by registering a FIR, the women will not be arrested, rather the case will be referred to a court and it will decide whether to proceed against the women or not.

Moreover two witnesses will need to be produced to register the case. In case of false accusation the accused or the witnesses will have to face five-year imprisonment and the matter will be non-transferable. We have made it water-tight that there is no injustice to the women and I have come to know that thousands of women were behind bars, because of the old Hudood laws. They are there because of petty disputes of property and marriages without parental consent and have been accused by their fathers and brothers.

Such injustices will not be committed in future, under the new laws. Some elements are creating misperceptions, distortions about the Women Protection Bill and the government has not caved in to any pressure of any section. MMA has not dictated us to include the fornication bill in the PPC. The bill was made after understanding the realities by the PML and legal advisers from Senate and the National Assembly that a new article 496-B of fornication should be included in the PPC. This was not under any pressure, but there was a complete rationale and the article covers it.

Dear brothers and sisters the Parliamentary Select Committee was constituted that worked very hard with dedication and honesty to prepare this bill and did a good job. There was also a lot of behind-the-scene activity to make the bill acceptable to all. On the one side a group wanted the government not to touch it threatening to come on roads, while the other liberal extremists wanted to have it repealed fully, they will come on roads. This will mean that we have to legalize alcohol if the bill is repealed.

Therefore we did not touch the four laws, which were not related to adultery and rape and had nothing to do with injustices with the women. We developed consensus and discussed it with all, both the liberals and the Ulema and took them on board to reach a decision. I also like to appreciate the role of Council of Islamic Ideology; our real educated Ulema who are its members who played an important role gave us best advice about Islamic and un-Islamic issues to make it according to Islamic injunctions. The government was sincere in bringing about the changes, to ensure justice, and to fully support those on the right and was not afraid of anyone, but was only trying to develop consensus on the issue in the best interest of the nation.

The government maintained supremacy of justice and truth and this is the way forward. I hope that the Senate will also approve this bill with majority within next few days. We will continue our struggle to achieve this objective to fight against injustices of all sorts for our weaker sections of the society.

May Allah Almighty help us in fighting injustices against the weak and this is the demand of Islam.

There should not be any oppression or injustice against anyone. Even for the non-Muslims.

The government would continue to work for the protection of women against social customs such as marrying woman with the Holy Quran, Wlani, Wlata-Sata or exchange marriages, and the issue of three-Talaq and the inheritance issue. A bill against honour killing has already been passed.

All these issues need to be legislated and the bill will soon be introduced by the PML government and passed with majority so that the injustice against women ends and they are empowered and I will fully support this.

In the end I would like to say my brothers and sisters that time has come that moderate and progressive forces, who were in majority and wished to take Pakistan forward, should rise and display their strength to the extremists, to tell them they will have no say and voice of moderates would prevail. The National Assembly has completed four years and now is in fifth year and the election will be held in 2007 and I hope that my Pakistani brothers and sisters need to listen carefully that we are passing through a sensitive period and therefore I appeal to the nation to support the progressive forces in the next election while rejecting the extremist and fundamentalists forces as Pakistan’s defence, solidarity and future depended on it.

I hope you will vote for the progressive who wish to bring justice and moderation to the society and who will not allow injustice in the society. Inshallah the moderates will succeed in future.

I am very grateful to you.

May Allah Almighty bless us and Pakistan.

Pakistan Paindabad!

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