This is a copy of the letter sent by Women’s Action Forum (WAF) against the appointment of Maulana Sherani of JUI as chairman of Council of Islamic Ideology. The CII mandate is very broad and can bring review of any law, policy or development into its ambit to question and comment on it, effectively, a veto power.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan
Prime Minister’s House
12th June, 2010
Mr. Prime Minister,
We note with alarm and grave concern the probable appointment of Maulana Sherani of JUI to the Council of Islamic Ideology. We would like to register our serious reservations in reference to the influential mandate the CII wields.
The Council of Islamic Ideology was conceptualized as a review body of experts in Islamic Jurisprudence, which are indeed distinct from theologians and populist political leaders using faith-based identities.
It is imperative that members of the CII are not associated with any political party and Maulana Sheerani’s Chairpersonship must be disqualified on this count.
We have the historic example of the General Zia-ul-Haque era on how the Council was populated with traditional maulvis and was used politically to institutionalize discriminatory and repressive laws through Ordinances. WAF can volunteer to compile the regressive rulings of the Council.
The stewardship of the CII in the hands of religio-political parties would negate any gains Pakistani society has made, and ensure that civil society has made, and ensure that civil society groups remain enmeshed in defending status quo instead of catalyzing progressive changes.
We understand that the government can be held hostage to coalition threats of withdrawing support, but we are also emphatic that politically expedient decisions cannot be made at the expense of the marginalized, such as women and minorities, who will be most affected by the appointments to the CII. We have seen this pattern earlier in Swat as well, through untenable and unviable peace deals.
WAF requests the government to not renege on its commitment to people of Pakistan, and its efforts to end violence against women and support women’s political participation and its commitments to equality and protection of all citizens.
WAF writes to you in the hope that Maulana Sherani’s appointment will be cancelled and that the citizens of Pakistan will not have to challenge a people’s government on grounds of being anti-people.
On behalf of the Working Committee, Women’s Action Forum, Karachi & Hyderabad