From Qadri to Women bill: Can Govt resist religious pressure?
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2016-03-08 06:32:25

From Qadri to Women bill: Can Govt resist religious pressure?

Pakistan religous

 

 

 Embittered by this week’s execution of Mumtaz Qadri, supporters of religious parties vented their anger at countrywide protests that turned violent on Friday with the offices of several media organisations coming under assault. Violence was reported in Lahore, Karachi, Hyderabad and some other cities as the protesters attacked offices of Aaj TV, attacked a DSNG of Express News and ransacked the Hyderabad Press Club, besides manhandling policemen, journalists and cameramen. It appears that people with the same kind of mindset have denounced Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar win. There are many who have rejoiced at the international laurels that Ms Obaid-Chinoy has brought for us, imparting in the process the much-needed soft image to Pakistan, which it has been desperately trying to cultivate for years and to discard the image of being a ‘hard’ country. However, at the same time, there are those, many of whom adept in the use of social media as well as a section of mainstream media, who have castigated the Oscar winner for promoting a negative image of Pakistan by making documentaries on subjects like honour killing and acid attacks on women. They believe documentaries on such subjects only bring a bad name to Pakistan and also in their own warped thinking, they believe that it was because of the ‘negative’ theme of the documentary and not for its overall excellence that A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness was chosen by the jury for the Award. This kind of reaction to the Oscar win typifies how people here have a problem with any realistic portrayal of the country, especially when it is done by a woman. Fortunately, however, the prime minister felicitating the award winner and promising to legislate on honour killings, has made it clear that this crime is one of the most critical problems faced by the country and the government was determined to adopt all possible ways to remove this stain from our society. The reaction to the Women’s Protection Bill in Punjab also confirms that there exists a wide chasm between the obscurantist segment of the country and its not-so-conservative part. Most troubling is the reaction of those who insist that the bill is contrary to Sharia, especially that of the chief of the Council of Islamic Ideology, where he went as far as to assert that Article 6 could be brought against the Punjab Assembly for passing this legislation. It seems that the obscurantist segment considers according protection to women a treasonous act, showing how far a significant segment of our population can go when it comes to trampling rights of vulnerable groups. The important thing, however, is that in all these instances, the state and governments have at least tried to do the right thing and have resisted pressure from reactionary elements, something which hasn’t always happened in the past. All societies have their fair share of divisions and chasms and Pakistan is no different. Perhaps the best we can hope for right now is that the state continues to uphold the rule of law despite all the existence of these divisions and without giving into reactionary forces.

 

pk.shafaqna.com

 

 

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