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ICC Note: This new system could cause problems for Christians

Pakistan province passes bill to create Taliban-style police system

11/17/06 Pakistan (CSW) The North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in Pakistan has this week passed controversial legislation to enable the creation of a Taliban-style police system. The move has been dubbed “unconstitutional” by opponents of the bill.

The Hasba Bill was passed on Monday 13 November 2006 with a majority. It allows for the creation of an Islamic watchdog to monitor the strict observance of Islamic practices in public places. This proposed watchdog has been compared to the Taliban regime’s Department of Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue in Afghanistan.

The Province, which borders Afghanistan, is ruled by the Muttahida Majils-e-Amal Party (MMA) – a coalition of Islamist radical parties said to have close links with the deposed Taliban regime. The MMA has a strong majority in the NWFP provincial assembly.

A previous draft of the legislation was passed by the provincial assembly in 2005. However, the bill was blocked from becoming legislation and declared unconstitutional by Pakistan’ Supreme Court. The current legislation will now be sent to the Province’s governor for ratification.

On Wednesday 15 November 2006, Maulvi Iqbal Haider of Pakistan Awami Himayat Tehreek, an Islamic party, lodged a challenge to the bill in the Supreme Court of Pakistan under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution of Pakistan. He contended that the bill would give rise to a constitutional crisis in the society and lead to a setup parallel to the judicial system in the Province.

The All Pakistan Minorities Alliance has labeled the bill as an “Islamic martial law.”

Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas, says: “The repression imposed by the Taliban regime is well known. It is therefore deeply concerning that a province in Pakistan has chosen to adopt a similar system. Pakistan’s Supreme Court has rejected this legislation once and we urge the authorities in Pakistan to reject it again.