Pakistani Hardliner Strike Against Women's Rights Fizzles

The strike may have been a bust but the rally drew a sizeable crowd in Islamabad.

Supporters of Islamic alliance Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) chant anti-government slogans during a protest against the Women Protection Bill in Islamabad December 22, 2006. Pakistan’s lower house of parliament voted on November 15, 2006, to put the crime of rape under the civil penal code, curtailing the scope of Islamic laws that rights groups have long criticised as unfair to women. (REUTERS/Mian Khursheed)

ADN Kronos reports that the planned nation-wide strike against the goevernment for passing a women’s rights bill gained only a lukewarm response:

Islamabad, 22 Dec. (AKI) – By Syed Saleem Shahzad – A strike called by hardline Islamists intended to protest the recently approved Women’s Protection Bill drew a lukewarm response on Friday, indicating that the country’s traditional religious forces have a weak appeal for the masses, according to ruling Pakistan Muslim League party secretary general Senator Mushahid Hussain.

The strike went off peacefully without incident and all company and government offices remained open. In the cities like of Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Peshawar, and Quetta, traders keep their shops closed on Friday as usual. But in Karachi and Lahore life was by and large normal, the only noticeable difference being fewer passengers on public transport.

The six party religious alliance, the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) called the strike. Other opposition parties including the Pakistan Muslim League led by former premier Nawaz Sharif and the mainstream Pakistan Peoples Party led by Benazir Bhutto did not respond to the MMA’s overtures.

Consensual sex outside of marriage remains a crime punishable by five years in prison or a fine of 165 U.S. dollars.

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