The Pakistani leader General Zia-ul Haq has announced that his country is to revert to Islamic Law.
The Pakistani leader General Zia-ul Haq has announced that his country is to revert to Islamic Law. The announcement was made to coincide with the anniversary of the birth of the prophet Muhammed. Meanwhile, there is no world on whether lawyers have been successful in their attempts to have set aside the death sentence imposed on former Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
SYNOPSIS: The announcement of the return to Islamic Law was made by General Zia at the building where the National Assembly used to meet in Islamabad. On Saturday (10 February), General Jia said that laws formerly modelled on British patterns would be altered, where they conflict with Islamic teaching. Since the partition from India in 1947, strict Islamic Law has not been enforced.
Now it will be mandatory to say prayers five times a day. Thieves could have a hand or foot cut off; alcohol is banned; adulterers could be stoned to death. Even Pakistani Christians -- some ten thousand of the country's sixty million people -- are under restraint not to drink alcohol, other than during religious services.
The reversion mean that the rights of women have been affected--to what extent is not clear at present, but under Islam they are relegated to a position of inferiority to men. Under the law, interest cannot be charged on borrowed money. How this will affect banks, and more importantly, international loan is yet to be seen. Soft drinks are going to be the order of the day. Penalties for a Muslim drinking alcohol are severe. Even foreigners drinking in public can be prosecuted. Foreigners are, however, allowed to drink indoors -- providing they show their passports. What will happen to existing breweries and distilleries has not yet been announced.
The anniversary of the birth of Mohammed fell on Saturday (10 February), which is the twelfth day of the Muslim month of Rabi-up-Awwal. This celebration was in Rawalpindi, but scenes like it were taking place throughout the country.
The celebrations were to be spread over three days. Placards bearing hymns and verses had been put up and public buildings were to be illuminated at night. Pakistan's reversion to Islamic Law comes at a time when her neighbour, Iran, is on the eve of becoming an Islamic Republic. Iran is a supplier of aid to Pakistan, but observers say the situation may alter if the Pakistani leader General Zia allows the execution of Mr. Bhutto to go ahead.
In London on Sunday (11 February) some four thousand people demonstrated against the death sentence imposed on Mr. Bhutto. The demonstrators warned of grim consequences if Mr. Bhutto is executed.
The demonstrators tries to march on the Pakistan Embassy, but police had sealed off all possible routes and the march went instead to Hyde Park, where a large rally was held.
One of Mr. Bhutto's sons, Mr. Murtaza Bhutto, said that his father's execution would lead to civil war. Sunday also saw more action concerning the death sentence -- this time in favour of it. A group representing eight Pakistani organisations presented a petition to the British Prime Minister, Mr. James Callaghan. A spokesman had this to say about their feelings.