Pakistan is a strange country. Considering the fact that 70% of the population comprise of youth, there is no Council of Youth Affairs to safe guard their rights. A great majority of the population has no access to health & reproductive facilities but there is no council working to ensure that people of Pakistan should be provided with basic healthcare. On the other hand, a good 97% of the population follows some kind of Islam or the other but the country still need multiple councils and other bodies to safeguard the religion. Two such bodies – Federal Shariat Court & Council of Islamic Ideology – regularly come up with suggestions to make Islam even stronger in the country.
The latest in the line is the brand new set of Fatwas and advisements by Council of Islamic ideology (CII) against science and semantics – yes, you got it right – against science and semantics.
The CII has advised Higher Education Commission and other relevant institutions to refrain from using the English translation of “Allah”, “Rasool” & “Masjid”. That is not all; the Council also deemed usage of terms “Holy Book” & “Holy Place” illegal in reference to Quran & Masjid.
The Council also believes that the blasphemy laws of the country are perfect the way they are and should not be touched.
The Council also declared the process of cloning illegal. I am not sure what is their stance on stem cell research or if they even know about it but if they are against cloning, chances are they are against that too. I have a feeling that the minute one of the members of CII loses a limb or a spleen and is assured that they would get a new one made, they will change their tune.
Last but not the least, CII chose to attack the weakest of the weakest section of the society – the raped woman. The latest fatwa by the council says that DNA evidence should not be used as the principle evidence in cases of rape (zana-bil-jabar) and can only be used as circumstantial evidence. As I was unable to fathom the text and logic behind this ruling, I looked around. Nusrat Javeed and Mushtaq Minhas discussed the advisements in their May 29th show of Bolta Pakistan and spoke with one of the members of CII Allama Tahir Ashrafi to clarify the issue. Must point out that Nusrat Javeed pressed the issue as much as he could’ve done considering he is a public figure and lives in Pakistan.
Tahir Ashrafi reiterated that DNA should be considered – at best – a circumstantial evidence on basis of which arrests can be made and further investigations should be carried out. However, a suspect must not be punished on the basis of DNA evidence alone, for that evidence of 4 Muslim male adults is necessary.
Tahir Ashrafi also added that they have doctors in the Council who say that there is doubt in DNA testing (DNA testing is 99.9 accurate) and as the shariah compliant punishment for the crime is very hard, one has to be careful. What I gathered from Ashrafi’s statement on the TV show is that they are concerned about protecting the rights of a person who might be a rapist but are less concerned about the rights of a woman who has been subjected to a gross personal violation and a heinous crime.
The most logical response to that line of reasoning is that most criminals who rape women do it without audience and if somehow we happen to chance upon those elusive 4 Muslim male adults present during the crime of rape, under any civil law they would be considered accomplices to the crime, not morally upright witnesses. If I were a legislator, I would call for making a law that would hand out the harshest punishment for those 4 adult, supposedly pious Muslims men who were silently witnessing a crime as horrible as rape.
The gender bias of the CII is evident from the fact that they have ruled out use of DNA sample as a primary evidence in rape crimes alone and has not barred their use as primary evidence in other criminal activities such as murder.
We are living in 21st century where Artificial Intelligence has made human participation is so many acts redundant. Any function that can be mechanized will be mechanized yet Maulvis is Pakistan are busy ruling science out from every sphere of life, from Ramzan and Eid moon sightings to crime investigation. Rape is a crime, not a religious matter hence its investigation should also be criminal matter following the protocol of any criminal investigation. Human beings can and do lie but DNA evidence does not, if implicated in a crime wrongfully, most human beings would prefer to prove their own innocence through scientific evidence rather than something as flimsy as another man’s word.
Pakistani maulvis have very selective appreciation for science. They like it when it is used to make air planes that take them for umrah, loud speakers with which they make calls for azaan five times a day, cell phones, missiles, bombs and what not but declare that DNA evidence is not a conclusive proof of rape because science is uncertain and there is a .001% chance of the evidence being incorrect.
As far as legality of things stand, appointment of Maulana Muhammed Khan Sherani who headed that CII session is also illegal, hence all the recommendations of CII should be immediately discarded (if you ask me, the whole council should be disbanded but that is just wishful thinking on my part). The constitution demands that CII chairman has to be a person with no political affiliation but Maulana Sherani is a parliamentarian, JUI-F’s Senator from Balochistan, which makes the whole council a bit shady.