Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday expressed his disappointment at some "elected representatives and ministers' opposition" of the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2018 in the National Assembly, terming it a "scary moment" for the society.
"What hopes can one really attribute to a society whose fifty elected representatives and even ministers actually voted for underage marriage?" he tweeted.
The lawmakers who opposed the bill also included MNAs from Chaudhry's own political party, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), most prominent of whom were Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri and State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Mohammad Khan.
Chaudhry, in his tweet today, rued that elected representatives had voted in favour of child marriage, adding that the fact alone "should be enough to give sleepless nights to the world and intelligentsia of our own".
He had also tweeted in favour of the bill yesterday, when journalist Hamid Mir pointed out that even though the bill was tabled by an MNA of PTI, it was opposed by some other ruling party members, and said: "Unless we decide whether this country is to be governed by mullahs or rationality, we should forget even the idea of progress."
The bill — that has already been passed by the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights as well as the upper house itself — was presented in the National Assembly yesterday, and it polarised parties during debate. Even though the bill was tabled by Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani of the PTI, several of his fellow party leaders strongly opposed it.
The bill had been unanimously endorsed by the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights and was tabled in the Senate by PPP Senator Sherry Rehman on Monday. PTI's Qadri and Khan had opposed the bill in the Senate as well but it had received the majority needed to be passed.