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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 August 2006, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
Pakistan law change 'un-Islamic'
Rape victim
Hudood laws can punish women for extra-marital sex
Pakistan's six-party religious alliance has condemned government moves to change controversial Islamic laws.

Siraju-ul-Haq, a senior member of the MMA alliance, told the BBC the government was "following a Western agenda to secularise Pakistan".

He was speaking a day after the bill to repeal the laws was tabled, sparking angry scenes in parliament.

The Hudood ordinance dates from 1979 and imposes strict punishments for such crimes as rape, theft and adultery.

We reject this amendment bill from Pakistan army headquarters... because it aims at 'divide and rule'
MMA minister Siraju-ul-Haq

Critics of the Hudood ordinance say it discriminates against women and fails to differentiate between rape and adultery.

Under one law, rape victims face prosecution for adultery, unless they produce four male witnesses. This makes it almost impossible to prosecute rapes.

'Shocking'

Mr Haq, senior minister for finance, planning and development in North West Frontier Province where the MMA is in power, accused the government of "ulterior motives".

"We reject this amendment bill from Pakistan army headquarters... because it aims at 'divide and rule'," he told the BBC Urdu service in London.

"The government must focus on more important issues like education, poverty alleviation, price rises and the interference of the military in government affairs."

He said moves to repeal the Shariah laws were "the spirit of Islam".

In Pakistan, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz criticised the MMA's response to the bill, calling it "shocking".

He said the proposals were aimed at bringing Pakistani law into line with Islamic injunctions promoting women's rights.

The bill was briefly debated on Monday before the Speaker referred it to a committee for review, Pakistan TV said.

It is not clear when voting might take place.


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