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Discussion on Hindu Marriage Bill in Press Club

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ISLAMABAD:(APS)FEB 18,2016- The speakers at panel discussion held here Thursday said that the dual system of justice was causing serious damage to the society and the implementation of law should be equal for the rich and the poor.

Speaking over the topic of ‘Hindu Marriage Bill’ the parliamentarians and the members of civil society expressed concerns over forced conversion of Hindus mainly in Sindh and the blatant abuse of law.

The panel discussion was organised by the National Press Club (NPC) to discuss the reasons regarding delays in formulation of Hindu personal laws in Pakistan and controversies in the current draft law.

Senator Nasreen Jalil of MQM, Chairperson Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights said that the justice system has to be fair and equal for all the citizens, irrespective of their caste, creed, sect, religion or ethnicity.

“The issue of delays in formulating Hindu Marriage Bill is related to other issues such as forced conversions of girls and now after the induction of Clause 12(iii) Hindus fear that their married women would be kidnapped and shown as Muslim converts in the court of law,” she added, “This is more to do with the abuse of law and its incorrect implementation.”

She blamed the establishment for following the wrong policies that was leading towards extremism and terrorism in Pakistan.

“We have seen actions under the misuse of loudspeakers for but nothing happened to those who instigated the mob violence in Jhuelm to burn away a factory owned by an Ahmadi,” she said.

Senator Nasreen Jalil said, “I am facing 44 cases for listening to the speech of my leader – but at the same time we have a proof a lot more being said by the leaders of ruling party in Punjab but nothing happened,”

She said that people are running from pillar to post but police is not registering case against the ‘famous or infamous’ cleric of Islamabad who has even challenged the state institutions and delivered speech to instigate sectarianism.

“I would request Chaudhary sahib to please get the clause 12 (iii) deleted from the draft bill,” she asked Chaudhary Mehmood Bashir Virk, chairman National Assembly Standnig Committee on Law and Justice, who was sitting besides him.

Meanwhile, Chaudhary Mehmood Bashir Virk highlighted that the clause 12 (iii) was being misunderstood.

“The clause only says that if any of the spouse converts the other partner has to right to claim separation,” he said, “We cannot stop wilful conversions – but everybody is against forced conversions and this law will not promote forced conversion.”

However he added that the issue of forced conversions was more to do with the special status enjoyed by the rich and powerful, “But this is wrong and this system should change.”

He said that Hindus were patriotic Pakistanis and he considers them like bothers and sisters.

“At the same time that Muslim is my enemy who is causing damage to Pakistan or the citizens of this county,” Mr Mehmood Virk added.

Dr Ramesh Vankwani, PML-N MNA and chairman Pakistan Hindu Council highlighted that it took around 10 months for the NA body to clear the Bill, and that was mainly due to extra ordinary debates and discussion over the bill.

He too called for eradicating extremism from the society – which he described as the root cause of terrorism in Pakistan.

Civil society member Kishan Sharma countered the argument by Chaudhry Mehmood Virk and said that the ground realities in Sindh was creating fears among the Hindu community that the Clause 12 (iii) will be used as a tool for forced conversion of married women after kidnapping them.

“Sir we have faced the situation where girls as young as 13 years were being kidnapped but no authority including police and courts provided justice to the aggrieved family,” Kishan Sharma added.

Hotan Chand Kirmani, vice chairman Pakistan Hindu Council also addressed the discussion.

Currently three province – KP, Balochistan have given their consent to the federal government to make Hindu Marriage law, while Punjab is likely to give its consent in near future, but Sindh has formulated its own Hindu Marriage registration law.

The panellist expressed hope that Sindh too would adopt the national law as it was a complete set covering issues including marriage, separation, inheritance etc.

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