KARACHI – The fate of Pakistan’s Islamic Ideology Council (CII) has been dividing the government of Pakistan’s southern Sindh province and Islamist parties following demands to the federal government to disband the advisory body over what was deemed controversial opinions.
“Instead of the CII, the Sindh assembly should be dissolved as it has passed an unconstitutional resolution,” Maulana Abdul Gafoor Haidri, the secretary general of Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam (JUI), country’s one of the two mainstream religious parties told OnIslam.net.
“The CII has been safeguarded by the 1973 constitution of Pakistan. The Sindh government has no authority or prerogative whatsoever to make such an unconstitutional demand,” Haidri added.
Controversy surround CII, a constitutional body responsible for giving legal advice on Islamic issues to the government for its “controversial” advises on certain religious issues, appeared recently after the issuance of a series of decisions deemed controversial.
The demand was made through a resolution unanimously adopted by the Sindh provincial assembly sparking countrywide protests with religious parties demanding the dissolution of the assembly.
The Sindh assembly passed the resolution after the CII declared that there was no specific age for men and women for marriage in Islam.
The CII also advised that the DNA test evidence should be taken as a secondary evidence rather than a primary evidence in line with other parts of the world in rape cases.
The two advises invoked countrywide protests from left-wing political parties and women rights associations.
The incumbent chairman of the CII is Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani, a former member of the country’s Upper House, Senate, and a central leader of the JUI.
The ongoing tussle between the two sides was further aggravated after the Sindh government announced a crackdown against religious seminaries (madrassahs) running without proper registration across the province.
The Sindh Chief Minister belonging to left-wing Pakistan Peoples Party (PP) has already ordered banning the madrassahs which are being run without provincial government’s permission.
“The PPP government wants only madrassahs to operate with permission. Otherwise, no permission is required for killing people, corruption and other social evils,” Haidri charged.
Qari Usman, the Karachi chief of the JUI, disagreed.
“If the PPP government tries to ban madrassahs, the people of Sindh will ban its government,” an emotionally charged Usman told a public rally in Karachi on Tuesday last.
“Instead of taking madrassahs under its control, the government should pay attention to the deteriorating conditions of schools and colleges, which fall under its jurisdiction,” he said referring to over 7000 ghost schools in the province that only exist on paper.
Sharmila Farooqi, a member of Sindh assembly, thinks the CII should be disbanded as there is no need of this institution.
“They (CII members) are still living in the 16th century. They have no idea where science has reached,” Farooqi told OnIslam.net
She thought the CII views on women and child marriages had nothing to do with Islam.
She opines that the CII has failed to play any positive role vis-à-vis legislation in last 15-20 years. Instead, she adds, it has appeared as an anti-women body.
“In the presence of Federal Shari’ah Court, there is no need of the CII. Therefore, I would say, this is a redundant body, and should be down away. This would be better in the country’s interest,” she maintained.
“The CII is violating its own mandate. It is not a legislative body. It can only act when its advice is sought on a law either by the parliament or by the president. It cannot give advises at its own,” she added.
Sarwar Bari, a human rights activist, agrees with Farooqi.
“The CII is not a legislative body, therefore it should stop giving us its views,” Bari said.
Yet, Mohammad Hussein Mehanti, a central leader of Jamat-e-Islami, another mainstream religious party, has blasted the Sindh council over its moves to disband CII.
“The Sindh assembly’s resolution for dissolution of CII is extra constitutional, and it must be withdrawn forthwith,” Mehanti, a former parliamentarian told an All parties Conference against Sindh government at Karachi Press Club on Thursday.
He asked the members of Sindh assembly to tender unconditional apology to the people for their “unconstitutional” step.
“CII’s advises are not the final judgment or the law. If anyone has objection to their recommendations, they can move to the courts. But dissolution of a constitutional body is not at all a sane demand,” he added.
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