‘Controversial amendment’ sparks concerns over social fabric and institutional integrity in Pakistani society

ISLAMABAD: The recent passage of the ‘Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023’ by the Parliament has ignited a wave of concern among various segments of Pakistani society.

The Majlis Wahdat Muslimeen (MWM-Pakistan), a prominent religious and political organization, has strongly criticized the amendment, warning that it threatens to unravel the delicate social fabric and generate controversy within state institutions.

In a press conference held at the National Press Club, Chairman of MWM, Allama Nasir Abbas, expressed his apprehensions regarding the far-reaching consequences of the amended bill. He asserted that the controversial legislation, approved by Parliament, could erode the cherished values of tolerance, open discourse, and learning that have long defined the nation.

“This amendment risks ushering in a culture of mob justice, fostering an environment where law is misused to settle personal vendettas,” cautioned Allama Nasir Abbas. He further contended that the amendment’s real implications go beyond its stated purpose of safeguarding the respect for Ahle Bait (AS) and Sahaba Karam.

“The amendment’s true intent is suspect – it seems to legitimize and enforce reverence for figures like Yazid. However, this endeavor is bound to fail, as the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis reject the deeds of Yazid,” remarked the MWM chief. He highlighted the irony that those who lauded Yazid publicly are now declaring victory following the bill’s passage.

Allama Nasir Abbas reflected on Pakistan’s history, noting that the nation was established through the combined efforts of Shia and Sunni communities. However, he lamented that during the 1980s, the military dictator General Ziaul Haq introduced divisive policies and schemes that aimed to pit these communities against each other.

“The scholars and religious leaders of all denominations in Pakistan demonstrated responsibility by thwarting these divisive tactics. Together, they prevented extremist elements from tearing the country apart,” emphasized Allama Nasir Abbas.

He contended that the amendments, while attempting to protect the sanctity of revered figures, could inadvertently embolden extremists. He cited instances of brutal incidents, such as the public lynching of a Sri Lankan national in Sialkot and the targeted killing of a teacher in Balochistan, neither of which involved Shia individuals. These incidents, he argued, were driven by extremist ideologies that could flourish under the amended legislation.

“Allowing such a law to exist only arms extremists with a lethal weapon and spells doom for our society. Even leaders of prominent parties and members of the armed forces may not be spared from the wrath of religious extremists,” warned Allama Nasir Abbas. He further linked the rise of terror groups in Pakistan, who inflicted substantial harm, to the unintended consequences of previous policies.

Other notable figures present at the press conference included Allama Syed Ahmad Iqbal Rizvi, Syed Nasir Abbas Shirazi, Allama Iqbal Hussain Behshti, and Malik Iqar Hussain Alvi.

As the nation grapples with the aftermath of this contentious legislative amendment, concerns over its potential impact on social harmony and institutional integrity remain at the forefront of public discourse. The future implications of this amendment are likely to continue generating debate and discussions within Pakistani society.

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