PM placates Fazl ahead of Mansoora moot

LAHORE - A day before a meeting of religious parties against the women protection law, JUI-F head Fazlur Rehman called on PML-N top leadership which ‘assured’ him of removing the concerns on the newly framed law.
Women Protection Bill was recently passed by Punjab Assembly with consensus but the law promising security to women against domestic violence has invited strong reaction from the religious quarters who consider it un-Islamic.
In the meeting at their Jati Umra residence on Monday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif reportedly told Fazl, whose own party is strongly opposing this law, that a committee would look into the matter.
“Nawaz Sharif Sahib assured me to personally look into the issue and also hold discussions with ulama (clerics) at federal level to address their reservations,” Fazl said in a media talk after the meeting.
The JUI-F leader later told the reporters that the prime minister has assured him to personally look into the matter and also hold consultative meeting with religious parties at federal level to address their reservations.
The law passed last month is being considered a big leap towards protecting the women against violence and is part of Punjab government efforts to stem a rising tide of gender-related abuse in a country ranked as the world’s third most dangerous place for women.
Rights groups have welcomed this development but warned that implementation of this law remain a key concern in the heavily male dominant society.
The religious parties and groups, on the other hand, have rejected the law and termed it an attack on country’s family system. They have announced holding countrywide protests against the “un-Islamic moves of the government”.
The execution of Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, is another reason of their anger against the government.
The religious leaders say the government wants to make Pakistan a secular and liberal state which they would never allow.
The Jamaat-e-Islami is holding a meeting of religious parties at Mansoora today and it has already planned sit-ins in various cities against the government.
The JUI-S, another mainstream religious party led by Samiul Haq- known as Father of the Taliban, announced to challenge the law in the Supreme Court besides holding protests against it.
Being an ally of the government, Fazl’s yesterday meeting with Sharifs just a day before the religious parties’ moot at Mansoora is being considered an effort to offset the pressure and also open a way for dialogue between the religious parties and the government.
The Punjab CM has already constituted a committee to hold consultative meetings with clerics to address their “grievances” against the act.
It is unclear whether the JUI-F leader took into confidence the other religious parties before holding meeting with Sharifs.
An insider said that the meeting took place on prime minister’s wish and he sought Fazlur Rehman’s recommendations on the act and assured to remove their concerns.
Talking to journalists, Fazl said that he conveyed to the prime minister that the Act was un-Islamic.
“Now we (religious parties) should also show flexibility when the government is ready to hold dialogue with ulma on the issue,” he replied to a query.
He said he will present the details of his meeting with the PM and Punjab CM to the religious parties’ leaders at Mansora today.

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