CLAAS Press Release
9 January 2017
Pakistan: Governor Sindh refuses to approve forced conversion bill
Following the advice of Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Governor Sindh Saeeduzzaman Siddiqi on Friday rejected the controversial bill against forced conversion that was recently unanimously adopted by the Sindh Assembly.
Sources said that besides the chief minister’s advice, the governor of Sindh also received a formal request from the MQM that the bill should not be approved. While returning the bill, the governor also
considered the resolution of the Council of Islamic Ideology, terming the bill as un-Islamic.
The chief minister said the government wanted certain changes in the language of the bill.
The MQM told the governor the bill was passed in haste, and the sources said the MQM also raised a question on the process of adopting the bill.
The governor gave all these reasons and directed that through a meaningful consultative process, such an enactment be made which should develop harmony between different religions.
In November last year, the Sindh Assembly had unanimously passed the bill, which invited strong criticism as it contained some provisions that are considered un-Islamic and unconstitutional.
The bill became controversial for the reason that it contained a provision under which nobody under 18 person could convert to Islam even out of his/her free will and choice. Such a bar is not only considered against the teachings of Islam but also in violation of the Constitution.
Nasir Saeed Director CLAAS-UK, who earlier applauded the Sindh Government and PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party) for passing this law against forced conversion, now has grave concerns about the bill being returned with several objections especially raised by Islamic groups. He said that CLAAS has been campaigning against forced conversion in Pakistan and was glad when the Sindh assembly unanimously adopted the bill.
He added: “Now we are very concerned because I think even if the whole law is not scrapped, the age limit will be removed, and if the age limit is removed, then it will become ineffective and instead of
stopping forced conversion it may increase as people will be free to commit this crime under the guise of the religion without a fear of prosecution.
“I therefore request the PPP’s chairperson, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari kindly thinks twice before approving any changes to this law and please keep stay on the path you have chosen to fulfil the Quaid e Azam mission.