LAHORE, Sept 13: The Women’s Action Forum has rejected amendments proposed to the Hudood Ordinance by the government at the instance of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and vowed to continue its struggle for the repeal of the laws.

WAF leaders Asma Jehangir, Shahtaj Qizilbash, Khawar Mumtaz, Nighat Saeed Khan, Anis Haroon, Samina Rehman, Saleema Hashmi and Bushra Ahsan said at a news conference at the Lahore Press Club here on Wednesday that the forum would continue its struggle against the ‘black law’ till it was repealed.

They hoped that political parties and the people would support women’s struggle for the repeal of the ordinance.

Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Asma Jehangir said if the ordinance were amended in accordance with the government-MMA agreement, it would become worse than it was in its present form. Women’s organisations had been complaining about the confusion about Qazf but the situation had now been compounded by involving the issue of jurisdiction by separating the Hadd from Tazir and raising the issue of interpretation.

She said the government had been dilly-dallying with the Hudood Ordinance for the past few years, adding that it had started with indications of repealing the law but ended in efforts for a ‘consensus’ on amendments. The amendments proposed by the parliamentary select committee could have been accepted by a number of people but the current dictatorial regime, which has no political agenda of its own, invited the MMA to interfere to give an impression that the people were opposed to amendments, she said.

Ms Jehangir said the PPP, the Awami National Party and the MQM had favoured the original draft of amendments proposed by the select committee, adding that only the MMA, the army’s favourite, was opposed to it. The parliamentary committee had proposed making of lodging of Qazf complaints difficult and reducing the punishment for Zina from 10 to five years. The Hadd and Tazir in Zina bil-Jabr had been separated under the new amendments. The punishment for Hadd would be referred to the Federal Shariat Court but it would not be able to convict the accused in case an accused retracted his confession.

She termed the amendment proposed to Section C of the ordinance for bringing it in conformity with the Holy Quran and Sunnah “an attempt of the mullahs to gain control over the courts”. They have already forced three judges of the Federal Shariat Court to resign, she said.

President of the Karachi chapter of WAF Anis Haroon said the mullahs had once again proved that they were the allies of every government and were willing to compromise on all the issues. She said they were opposing the Women’s Rights bill because they considered empowerment of women a threat to mullahism. She said they continued to oppose repeal of Hudood Ordinance despite the fact that hundreds of women had been detained under the law for long durations without any proof of their guilt.

Lahore WAF president Khawar Mumtaz said the government continued to claim that it believed in democratic values but had bypassed the parliament and struck a deal with the MMA on the amendments when it threatened to tender resignations. She appreciated the stand taken by the MQM on the issue.

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