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ICC Note: If the people of Pakistan come under the Sharia law it will cause even more difficulty for the Christians in Pakistan.

Christians to come under Sharia law in North-West Frontier Province

11/14/06 Pakistan (AsiaNews) – The government of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), a Pakistani province that borders on Afghanistan, is trying once more to impose a Taliban-like law on its citizens, but is facing opposition from the central government and the country’s religious minorities.

Federal Information Minister Mohammad Ali Durrani said today he would examine the proposed Hasba (Hisba) bill and if it failed to meet constitutional standards it would be sent to the Supreme Court.

Pakistan’s Christians are warning for their part that such a law runs the risk of “talebanising” the province, something that is a threat to the local population.

The NWFP Assembly, led by a Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (a coalition of six Islamist parties), tried in July 2005 to adopt a first draft of the bill. Under the new legislation the office of Muhtasib would be established; he would be the guardian of private morals and people’s adherence to Islamic principles and respect for Sharia law. But in September Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that the bill was “unconstitutional and discriminatory”.

Yesterday, the NWFP Assembly tabled an amended version of the bill whose changes, according to the local government, take into accounts the court’s objections.

Many however continue to fear that the risk for discrimination and abuses is still very high.

Minister Durrani noted that the ‘Hasba Act’ had nothing to do with religion but was “aimed at providing benefits to workers of the alliance before the [2008] general elections by spending Rs 8 billion on the structure needed to enforce it.”

For Shahbaz Bhatti, chairman of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, the Hasba bill is like “a sword hanging over religious minorities and women since they will be prime target of extremists.”

In a press release, Mr Bhatti added that the “”Hasba Bill is unconstitutional, a religious marshal law, and a parallel legal system that will spread anarchy and chaos in society and will deprive the general public of their rights and liberty. The provincial government will be able to use this bill to victimise its political opponents”.

In his view, “the Hasba bill is a conspiracy against the integrity of the country and the solidarity [of its people]. It hampers the efforts to promote interfaith harmony, a democratic culture and an enlightened and moderate image of the country.”

Asia News