ISLAMABAD: Members of the federal cabinet were divided over introduction of the Child Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which seeks to prohibit marriages of children under the age of 18 in the National Assembly on Tuesday evening.
There was also a clear divide amongst the political parties sitting on the opposition and treasury benches except from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Majority of the female parliamentarians from all the parties, excluding JUI-F, supported the introduction of the bill in the House. The chair, later, allowed introduction of the bill by 72 to 50 votes and it was referred to a standing committee of the House.
The bill moved by the minority member from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani was strongly opposed by the Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs AliMuhammad Khan while Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari supported the proposed legislation. Qadri claimed the proposed bill was un-Islamic; therefore, it could not be supported and it should not to be allowed to be introduced in the House. He said in accordance with the Constitution, the Parliament could not pass any law which is against the Islamic injunctions and practices. The minister said he would make efforts that the Council of Islamic Ideology vet the bill at the earliest so it is brought again in the House in a better form. Qadri had also opposed the legislation when it was passed by the Senate on Monday.
The Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan while opposing the bill said the bill could not be supported as it was against Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). "A minority member cannot be allowed to introduce a legislation in the Parliament which is against Sunnah and can disturb individual and family system of an Islamic society, he claimed. He maintained that he would not support such legislation even at the cost of his ministry and membership of the Parliament. Dr Shireen Mazari said the bill should be introduced and referred to the standing committee of the House. It should be left to the standing committee to decide whether the proposed law is Islamic or un Islamic, she said.
Members from JUI-F and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) opposed the bill terming the move as un-Islamic. They demanded that the draft of the bill should be sent to the CII. The proposed legislation seeks certain amendments in the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 which also include restriction of marriages of girls under age of 18.
The parliamentarians from both sides also introduced 10 other private member bills. The members from PTI including Ali Khan Jadoon, Uzma Riaz, Saleh Muhammad and PML-N members Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Ahsan iqbal and others introduced two separate Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019 for creation of Hazara province. The bill introduced by the PML-N members seeks creation of three new provinces including Bahawalpur, Janubi Punjab and Hazara while the proposed legislation from PTI members seeks one new province namely Hazara.
The PML-N member Tahira Aurengzeb introduced the Pakistan Citizenship Act, 2019 which says that every person born in Pakistan after commencement of this Act shall be the citizen of Pakistan by birth if one of the parents, at the time of birth, is a citizen of Pakistan or a permanent resident of Pakistan.
Other private members bills introduced on Tuesday include the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) (Amendment) bill, the Constitution (Amendment) bill 2019, the Criminal Law (Amendment) bill 2019 which proposes increase in punishment and fine in proportion to the amount of bounced cheque, Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues (Amendment) bill 2019, Narcotics Substance (Amendment bill 2019 and Islamabad Territory Prohibition of Corporal Punishment bill 2019.
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