A parliamentary committee on Wednesday rejected the anti-forced conversion bill after opposing a law proposed by the ministry of religious affairs, while lawmakers from minority communities opposed the decision.
The bill came up for discussion during a parliamentary committee meeting to protect minorities from forced conversions, where Religious Affairs Minister Nurul Haq Qadri said it was “environmentally unfavourable” to enact a law against forced conversions.
He warned that enacting a law on forced conversions would disturb the peace in the country and “create more problems for the minorities”. “They (minorities) will be made more vulnerable,” the minister said.
Stating that provincial governments, the president of the National Assembly and the prime minister’s office could take other measures to end forced conversions, he reiterated that legislation on the matter could lead to scuffles.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said the issue of forced conversion had been taken up with the prime minister, who had set up a special parliamentary committee on the matter.
“We’re serious about [addressing] There is a problem of forced conversions.”
He further said that the law was being opposed on the subject because setting an age limit with respect to forced conversions is “against Islam and the Constitution of Pakistan”.
The minister informed the committee that Law Minister Farogh Naseem had called him to his office and cautioned them against legislating on the matter, describing the move as “dangerous”.
“He (Naseem) told me that [being given] Ministries have no importance as they come and go, but we should not go against Islam.”
Senator Mushtaq Ahmed of Jamaat-e-Islami also opposed the bill, denying that the problem of forced conversions exists in Pakistan. “This bill is anti-Islamic,” he remarked.
Criticizing the government for first proposing the law, the senator said, “It is because of the wrong policies and neglect of the present government that not only Pakistan, but the entire Muslim world and minorities are also facing difficulties.” “
Opposition to the bill angered PTI’s MNA Lal Chand Malhi, who said earlier comments by ministers give an impression that forced conversions are not a problem in Pakistan.
“You are taking over minorities and such decisions [rejecting the bill] Will make the life of minorities hell in this country.”
Malhi claimed that the bill was not rejected by the Ministry of Religious Affairs or the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), but was rejected on the instructions of Mian Mithu. Pir Mithu of Bharchundi Sharif has been convicted for the alleged forced conversion of Hindu girls in rural Sindh.
In response to Malhi’s allegations, Khan accused him of making false and political statements.
An angry senator Ahmed said, “No matter what happens, we will not allow anyone to go against Islam.”
Another member of the committee, Maulvi Faiz Ahmed, also said that this bill is against Islam and Shariat. “And we will not allow any laws against Islam in this country,” he said.
This led to protests from members of minority communities, who cried that youth from their communities were being abducted in broad daylight and forcibly converted to Islam, while also lamenting the fact that Muslim members took the stand that forced conversion was not a problem. in Pakistan.
PTI MLA Ramesh Kumar said that while they were not deliberately opposing conversion, many Hindus were promised money and marriage to lure them into converting to Islam.
“And when they are not given what is promised to them, they return home. That means they did not convert of their own accord,” he said.
He further said that the opposition to the law against forced conversion shows that “the government is concerned”. [the reaction by] contains elements” in the problem.
the clerics had express reservation On the bill in August, calling it a conspiracy, suggested that the government should not fall into the trap of the West by taking it to Parliament.
In a meeting chaired by Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) chairman Dr Qibla Ayaz, he had reviewed the draft bill and raised objections to several clauses including the minimum age for conversion.
A copy of the draft bill, available with dawnIt shows that any non-Muslim, who is not a child, and is able and willing to convert to another religion, shall apply for a certificate of conversion from the Additional Sessions Judge of the area where he is residing.
The draft law highlights that the application must include the name of a non-Muslim who states religion, age and gender, CNIC number, parents, siblings, children and spouse (if any), current religion ready to change. Reason for converting to new religion.
The draft law states that the Additional Sessions Judge shall fix a date for the interview within seven days of the receipt of an application for conversion, and the date on which the judge shall ensure that the conversion is not under any coercion or is due to deception or fraud. Misrepresentation.
The proposed law states that “judges may provide 90 days for non-Muslims to conduct a comparative study of religions and return to the office of an Additional Sessions Judge.”
After satisfaction, the judge will issue a certificate of conversion.
The proposed law also provides for punishment of five to 10 years and a fine of Rs 100,000 to Rs 200,000 for a person using criminal force to convert a person to another religion.
Whereas any person who forcibly abets conversion can be punished with imprisonment of three to five years and a fine of one lakh rupees.
It highlights that the age of a person wishing to change his religion will be determined by the child’s birth certificate, or school enrollment certificate, or Nadra B-Form.
“In the absence of such form, the age of the child can be determined on the basis of medical examination,” the draft said.
The proposed law also states that the case of forced conversion has to be disposed of by the court within 90 days, while an appeal against conviction or acquittal of an offense under this Act shall be presented within ten days before the concerned High Court. May go. The date on which the copy of the order passed by the Court of Session is supplied to the appellant.