On 10 June 1996, a debate began in
the academic and religious circles regarding the decision of the then ‘Federal
Cabinet’ to abolish capital punishment for women.
Not only does the concept of abolishing
capital punishment for women clash with the constitution of Pakistan, it
is also in the most conspicuous manner, against the principles of the constitution
granted by God Almighty, that is the Qur’an.
Furthermore, it is tantamount to an insult to the integrity of the Pakistani
There is no doubt that according to
Qur’an and the Sunnah of
Holy Prophet Muhammad (sws), men and
women are supposed to work in their separate capacities on the social level.
But the Qur’an clearly indicates
that as far as intellect, knowledge, wisdom and consciousness are concerned,
there is no difference between a man and a woman. Both are equally blessed
with the power to perceive right and wrong, and have freedom of choice.
This means both men and women are equally accountable for their deeds respectively
in the Hereafter (see 4:32 and 4:123&124). Explaining the punishments
for the crimes as theft, fornication and murder, the Qur’an has prescribed the same punishment for both men and women (2:178).
It is reported that a women from the
elite was caught stealing. When the case was brought to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sws) he ordered for the
amputation of her hand. When 'Usamah (raa) interceded on the request
of the woman’s relatives, the Holy Prophet Muhammad
(sws) became angry and rejected the mediation saying that it was against
Equality in the accountability of
deeds in this world and the Hereafter is based on the principle that men
and women are equally blessed with intellect and consciousness. The difference
in this regard could be accepted if it were proved that a man and a woman
do not stand on the same footings as far as intellect and perception is
concerned. The Holy Qur’an,
sayings of Holy Prophet Muhammad (sws)
and the conscience of the world are witness to the fact that a criminal
can only escape punishment if his/her mental and moral condition makes
room for alleviation. It is the same principle which emanates from the
Qur’anic directive of giving
only half the punishment to slave-girls viz-a-viz free men and women. Similarly,
the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sws) declared
that three types of people could not be held responsible for their deeds
-- A lunatic, a minor and a person not in his senses. This is exactly the
principle followed by the law makers throughout the world. But some people
in Pakistan are bent upon proving that Pakistani woman is included in the
category of lunatics and senseless people.
One of our respected Federal Ministers
said that women are not usually involved in heinous crimes as terrorism
and robbery. We should like to ask the honourable minister that if women
are not involved in heinous crimes then what reason is there for abolishing
capital punishment and introducing life imprisonment for women. Why at
all should there be any punishment if women are not involved in these crimes?
Many human rights’ organisations have
also believed that the alleviation would bring more respect to the Pakistani
woman throughout the world. It is difficult to understand how the inclusion
of our women in the category of lunatics and senseless people can bring
respect to them. In all probability, because of this law, women involved
in crimes in Pakistan will get a licence for criminal activities.
The bottom line is that if people
today talk about gender equality and women are not considered to be second
rate human beings as far as intellect and freedom of choice are concerned,
then a woman should be equally and fully responsible for all of her deeds.
Today human-beings have power. They
can deviate from the laws of their Lord. They can humiliate the eternal
principles of God Almighty. They may prefer to follow their worldly masters
and pretend that everything is fine. But a day will come when they will
lose all the power and support. On that day they will have to face the
Lord of the universe. There will be no going back then.