Religious parties threaten to resign on Women Rights Bill


ISLAMABAD, Nov 16: The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal on Thursday announced that it would implement its decision of resigning from the National Assembly in protest against the passage of the Protection of Women's Rights Bill during a parliamentary party meeting on December 6 and 7. The MMA has 66 lawmakers in the 342-member lower house. The alliance's president, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, who presided over a meeting of its supreme council, said: "We will submit our combined resignation in the next session of the National Assembly; I have received all the resignations." The heads of all the parties in the alliance attended the four-hour meeting of the supreme council. Sahibzada Ans Noorani, son of former MMA president late Maulana Shah Ahmed Noorani who has recently been elected JUP president, was among the participants. Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a regular participant of the supreme council meetings , was conspicuous by his absence. MMA secretary-general Maulana Fazlur Rahman who read out a joint statement at a late-night briefing interrupted Qazi Hussain, when he said that the alliance had decided to tender resignations, by saying "only whatever I have read out from the joint statement is unanimou". However, Qazi Hussain said in a firm tone that the decision to resign was final and irreversible. Answering a question, he said that so far the alliance had decided to resign from the lower house and a decision to quit the provincial assemblies and governments would follow. He said that the decision to tender collective resignations, including that of Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, had been taken and would be implemented after the parliamentary party meeting. Earlier, reading out from the joint statement, Maulana Fazl said: "The meeting discussed President Gen Pervez Musharraf's last night address to the nation, described it as a declaration of war against Islamic culture and civilisation and decided to accept this challenge of ideological polarisation. "The MMA has decided to accept treading this clear warpath and deemed it necessary to come out in the field to safeguard the country's ideological precincts, independence and democratic status. It, therefore, has decided to line up the entire nation against American hegemony, killing of innocent people in the tribal areas and crimes against humanity. "The alliance, while discussing the ... passage of the so-called Protection of Women's Rights bill in the National Assembly, decided that to implement its earlier decision of resigning from NA seats, a two-day parliamentary party meeting will be held in Islamabad on December 6 and 7." Interrupting a journalist's question, Maulana Fazl advised the media to let the MMA implement its decision step by step, and not in undue haste.

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