Pakistan Province adopts Shari'ah law

( [email protected] ) Jun 26, 2003 01:23 PM EDT

On June 2 the North West Frontier's Provincial Assembly in Pakistan voted for Shari'ah, the Islamic law as the governing code in the North West Frontier Province(NWFP), Asist News reported on 20.

Akram Durrani, Chief Provincial Minister said, "from today, the Islamic law, Shari'ah will be practical in this province and no one can refuse this law."

The details such as how Shari'ah would be put into practice is still very unclear. There is still a conflict between current law and Shari'ah but it is so sure that Shari'ah will prevail.

A second measure passed on June 4, the Hisba Bill provides for the establishment of a provincial Shari'ah judge, a Mohtaseb as well as a Department for Vice and Virtue, a religious police force reponsible for enforcing the Shari'ah similar to those in Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The local Christians are anxious about Shari'ah which in fact stipulates that non-Muslims are not applied to it but it would be practical to anyone surpassing the religious differences.

Meraj Khan, the manager of a local NGO interviewed with BBC and said "The worst thing is that the workers of the religious parties can start to implement Shari'ah in their own interpretation. They may even encourage other people to do such actions " In Iraq, the Muslim extremists are implementing Shari'ah to both Muslims and Christians.

The campaign for practicing Shari'ah in the NWFP has been driven by the MMA, an alliance of six conservative Islamic parties. It came to power in the end of 2002, but it gained more power and stronger voice by Shari'ah bill. It demands for the greater Islamisation in other three provinces of Pakistan.

Moreover the PML-Q, linked to a Pakistan's military president, General Musharraf is having a good relationship with the MMA, which gives support to PML-Q. The PML-Q also has been forced to accommodate some of the MMA's demands for the expansion of the role of Islam.

However, there are indications that enforcement of Shari'ah in the NWFP may not be tolerated. MMA wants the expansion of Islam, against the instinct of the more moderate Musharraf.

The province's twenty-four district nazims, an official similar to a mayor, have resigned in protest. On June 8 President Musharraf strongly spoke out against the MMA at a reception hosted by the Lahore Bar Association. But it is yet unclear how the central government may respond to the adoption of Shari'ah in the NWFP.