Pakistan National Assembly Passes Women’s Protection Bill

Predictably, the Taliban supporting party from NWFP, MMA stalked out in a snit. From the Pakistan Observer:

Fazl and other Opposition members taking part in the debate, belonging to MMA and ARD criticized the Bill and described it in conflict with the teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah and in violation of the constitution. They stressed the need that the rights of the women should be protected but the Bill under consideration is meant to weaken the family system. They were of the view that it will shatter the very basis of our values and norms. They demanded that the recommendations of the Ulema Committee should be incorporated in the Bill. Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman wanted that the consideration of the Bill should be delayed and members of the Ulema Committee consulted.

Under the previous law, if four males did not testify to the woman’s rape, then the woman was automatically guilty of adultry or other crime which could lead to stoning. A woman could not testify in her own behalf, meaning that a raped woman was better off not reporting a rape. The “hudood” laws are this way to match extreme fundamentalist views of sharia.

Musharraf and the ruling party know politics, and the MMA only knows how to incite extremists. After the bombing of the Army in Dargai, the MMA are somewhat on the outs with the public-at-large in Pakistan. (Prior to bombing the Pakistani Army recruit training center they were able to rally thousands in the streets, post-Dargai this number has dwindled to hundreds.) Musharraf picked an opportune moment to put the bill through, and Musharraf knows that in Pakistan women can vote and that elections are around the corner in 2007, a fact which the MMA seems to have forgotten.

What’s interesting is the laws that were put forth for calendar after the MMA left the National Assembly in their childish snit:

Minister for Law and Justice Muhammad Wasi Zafar laid before the House five Ordinances. These are “The Islamabad Capital Territory Private Educational Institutions (Regulation and Promotion) Ordinance, 2006”, “The Pakistan Engineering Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2006”, “The Defence Housing Authority Islamabad Ordinance, 2006”, “The Institute of Space Technology Ordinance, 2006”, and the “National Database and Registration Authority (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2006”. Later the Speaker prorogued the House.

Italics are mine to point out two important pieces of legislation, that look to bode well for the moderates, and ill for the extremists. MMA might regret leaving the government when those pass.

More at Gates of Vienna.

UPDATE: From The Post we see that MMA will now directly oppose the state, in a move that is clearly secessionist and against the rule of law:

LAHORE: Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Maulana Fazlur Rehman Friday said the MMA would not allow the federal government to enforce the Women’s Protection Bill (WPB) in NWFP and Balochistan.“We will retaliate with full force to those who know only the language of power,” Fazl warned while addressing a press conference here. The MMA was not desirous of entering into talks with the government on the issue of WPB, he maintained.Fazl, who also heads his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, reiterated that Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) legislators would resign from the National Assembly in December. By-polls would not be allowed on the vacant seats, he asserted…..“We are not opposed to Musharraf’s agenda, but will wage a war to wipe out those forces which are bent upon promoting secularism in the country,” Fazl said. He also alleged that the president “speaks the language of the West”….Qaiser Khan Afridi in Peshawar adds: Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) President Qazi Hussain Ahmad Friday brushed aside the possibility of negotiations over his party’s decision to resign from the National Assembly.“Let me make it clear that the decision to resign from the National Assembly is final and irreversible. … I have received the resignations of all our members and they will tender them to the speaker in the next National assembly session,” said the MMA president, adding that the party’s future strategy and line of action will be evolved during its parliamentary meeting on December 6-7.Denying a rift in the MMA, as alleged by some members of the ruling coalition, Qazi said all the components parties in the religious alliance are united under one umbrella and had pledged to protect the country’s ideology.

“We will not allow the government to make changes in the Hudood laws at any cost, even if we have to launch country-wide demonstrations for this purpose,” he warned. On the other hand, the MMA president said, there was a clear split in the Pakistan Muslim League over the Women’s Protection Bill….

Resignations from members of the MMA have started flowing after the approval of the WPB. Hanif Abassi is another member of the NA from Rawalpindi who announced resigning his assembly seat and sent his resignation to MMA President Qazi Hussain Ahmed on Friday.

Hafiz Hussain said that he has already resigned and more resignations are pouring in and by December 7 all of the MMA MNAs would quit as we have no other choice. He said that the government can under no circumstances hold by-elections and now President Musharraf would also have to resign. He said that major political changes are expected in the country.

This is basically threatening war and secession.