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The Incongruence of CII

by Newsweek Pakistan
Farooq Naeem—AFP

Farooq Naeem—AFP

The advisory panel does not fully represent Pakistan’s demographics.

Last week, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) let it be known that it was going to discuss “Pakistani men’s rights and their protection” because—as one member stated—“some women in Pakistan torture men, and force them out of their houses… Islam grants rights to men as well and in this society those rights are being violated.” This week, a lady senator asked the Senate to consider recommending the induction of more women in the CII, which is a male-dominated constitutional body having only one, probably browbeaten, woman member.

The clerics of the CII are clearly seething at the prospect of living under a law passed by provincial assemblies protecting women against domestic violence. The CII must have a minimum of 8 and maximum 20 members, including the chairman; currently it has only one lady member among its 20 participants. CII speaks for all men and women of Pakistan, including non-Muslims whose representation in CII is zero. By the logic of representation, CII should be 50/50 male and female; and there should be non-Muslims in the CII as laws made on the recommendation of the panel affect their lives as well.

The CII wasn’t always considered so backwards. There was a term of the CII under scholarly non-cleric Dr. Khalid Masud that was considered an “embarrassment” for its recommendations of moderate lawmaking. He attracted much rude commentary by leaders of religious parties in the country for his refusal to bow to extremism.

The CII lost this moderate character after it was stuffed with clergy backed by powerful madrassas. The CII no longer seeks scholarship. The clerics see to it that orthodoxy is observed no matter what happens.

Earlier this year, the CII caused mass outrage by recommending “light beating” of the wife as one of the rights of a husband. It stands to reason that it will ensure that the Protection of Women law doesn’t lessen the man’s absolute authority to do so.

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