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PTI Divided Over Anti-Child Marriage Bill, Some Lawmakers Call It ‘Unconstitutional’

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is at loggerheads over the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2018. While many National Assembly lawmakers are in favour of the anti-child marriage bill, there are also those who oppose it saying that the bill is ‘unconstitutional’.

Among the PTI lawmakers who oppose the bill are Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri and State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Mohammad Khan.

Federal Minister For Science and Technology expressed disappointment over the opposition of the bill and said that it was ‘a scary moment’. “What hopes can one really attribute to a society whose fifty elected representatives and even ministers actually voted for underage marriage?” Fawad tweeted.

Chaudhry continued that the fact that some lawmakers voted in favour of child marriages “should be enough to give sleepless nights to the world and intelligentsia of our own”.

PTI leader Ali Muhammad Khan said that the bill has been sent to the concerned authority, which will consult the Council of Islamic Ideological (CII) over the matter. He said approval of the bill without approval of the CII was ‘unconstitutional’.

Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA)’s Senator and religious scholar Maulana Faiz Muhammad Khan said that how could those who have no knowledge of the religion talk on Sharia matters.

He said that according to the 1973 Constitution, “no law that goes against the Quran and Sunnah” shall be passed”. Therefore, criminalizing underage marriages is a violation of the country’s Constitution.

The bill — that has already been passed by the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights as well as the upper house itself — was presented in the National Assembly on Tuesday, and it polarised parties during the debate.

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