Don’t disband but reform CII

THE Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights, in its meeting on Tuesday, made a queer recommendation – to disband the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) blaming it of taking anti-women posture on some issues. It noted that the Council was responsible for increased incidents of violence against women and cited the bill proposed by CII for protection of women in this regard.
CII has come under harsh criticism because of some of its recommendations and posturing of its Chairman Maulana Muhammad Khan Shirani. However, the critics forget about the fact that the role of the Council is mere advisory and it is for the Parliament to make legislation as per recommendation or otherwise of the CII. The Council, which is a Constitutional body, has rendered immense services since its inception; as besides submitting its annual reports to the Parliament from 1974-75 to 2011-12, it reviewed a number of laws and produced reports on a host of topics including Islamization of laws, economy, education system, Zakat System, Insurance, Family Planning and Islamic System of Justice. We believe that the Senate committee has taken a simplistic view by apportioning all the blame of violence against women on CII and adopted extremist approach in recommending its dissolution. You are recommending disbanding of a body which has no implementation powers and what about other Constitutional bodies that have miserably failed to live up to the Constitutional provisions despite having more effective powers with implementation authority as well. This approach, in fact, is reflective of the jaundiced view of a particular class vis-à-vis Islamic institutions – be it CII or Sharia Court. It is regrettable that reports of the CII are ultimately dumped with a Section Officer of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and so far the legislature has not benefited from them the way these should have been as per Constitutional scheme of things. We strongly believe that instead of seeking abolition of the CII, the Parliament should, instead, take steps to benefit from the advisory capacity that the Council has developed over years. However, reforms are surely needed to ensure that appointments of members and the Chairman are made purely on merit and consideration should not be merely to give representation to all schools of thought but scholars of repute who have the ability to go deep into present-day issues, carry out research and come out with practicable solutions in the light of Islamic teachings and Ijtehad.

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