Musharraf orders review of Islamic laws
Islamabad, July 2 (IANS) Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has ordered a review of the Islamic laws in the country and said that 2,000 women prisoners, languishing in jails for a long time without being convicted, should be considered for release in a few weeks.
The president has tasked the Council of Islamic Ideology to review the Hudood Ordinance and propose necessary amendments with an aim to provide relief to women prisoners held for long without conviction.
There are around 6,500 women in jails throughout Pakistan. About 1,000 of them are serving their sentences, while the others are in jails due to prolonged trial procedure.
The Hudood Ordinance, which aims to Islamise Pakistani jurisprudence, has been criticised at home by experts, women's organisations and by human rights bodies abroad for being weighed against women.
"The president has taken notice of such women and ordered that their release should be considered," The News daily quoted Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Tariq Azim Khan as saying after a meeting chaired by Musharraf.
The law ministry was directed to immediately prepare a draft law for release of the women languishing in jail for years and who are not involved in heinous crimes like murder, attempt to murder, robbery or terrorism.
The ministry is likely to finalise the draft law in two days, The Nation newspaper said. The reforms package will be introduced through ordinances and after feedback from the legal fraternity and the people. It will be amended through parliament by incorporating necessary suggestions, The Nation said.
Musharraf has asked the Council of Islamic Ideology to review the Hudood laws in consultation with all the religious schools of thought and other segments of society who have been working on the issue.
Hudood derives from the Arabic word 'Hud', which means punishment. Among other things, it prescribes stoning to death for conviction for rape, cutting of hands for theft and lashing for gambling and consuming intoxication.
While this has been enforced in Saudi Arabia, no one has been punished under the Hudood Ordinance in Pakistan.
It is considered unfair to women in a dispute since a woman witness is not admitted in a rape case, nor is a non-Muslim witness. Women have been convicted in Pakistan for simply naming their attackers.