The Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS), in collaboration with the European Union-GIZ ‘Mustehkam Parlimaan’ Project, organized a Parliamentary Roundtable on the topic of Women Empowerment: A case Study of Inheritance Laws on 21st March 2023 at the Committee Room of the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan, Quetta. The roundtable was graced by the Honourable Speaker Balochistan Assembly Mr. Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali, as the Chief Guest. The absorbing session was attended by around 45 participants comprising more than 06 Honourable Members of the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan, representatives from PIPS and GIZ, the Secretary Provincial Assembly of Balochistan and other senior officers of the secretariat, Chairperson Balochistan Commision on the Status of Women and representatives, Senior Director for the Provincial Ombudsman (Mohtasib) Secretariat Balochistan, Senior Director Representative from the Women Development Department Balochistan and representative from the Council of Islamic Ideology, as well as representatives from the Provincial Government of Balochistan.
The event commenced with the recitation of the verses of Holy Quran by Mr. Mufti Ghulam Majid representative from the Council of Islamic Ideology. The Secretary Provincial Assembly of Balochistan Mr. Tahir Shah Kakar welcomed the Honourable Speaker Balochistan Assembly Mr. Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali, along with all the participants to the Roundtable session.
Mr. Tahir Shah Kakar Secretary Provincial Assembly of Balochistan, apprised the audience the purpose of this session was to engage in a constructive discussion on the challenges and critical issues related to women’s rights, particularly the right of inheritance. He expressed his gratitude to PIPS and briefed the audience on the expected outcome of the session, which was to formulate a set of recommendations aimed at resolving these issues. Honorable Speaker Provincial Assembly of Balochistan, Mir Jan Muhammad Jamali emphasized the issues of inheritance laws faced by women currently in Pakistan, He added that it is our prime priority to work for women empowerment. He briefly discussed the inheritance laws mentioned in the sharia-law and emphasized to follow Islamic law in order to resolve inheritance laws issues faced by women. He said that a silent revolution is on the rise in Balochistan with regards to women empowerment. In this regard he said female admissions at our schools and colleges and the ratio of female population in the province is increasing at a very fast rate. He said that the women in our province can be seen in every stratum for our society be it in the field of medicine, education or government administration. He suggested that PIPS must invited MPAs to Islamabad for a detailed session in this subject considering its importance and length of information that cannot be accumulated in a one day session. Muhammad Hanif Khan Nasar, Deputy Director Research PIPS, presented the objectives of current roundtable session and discussed about the laws and hurdles to women inheritance rights in Pakistan, highlighting the challenges, issues and goals regarding the inheritance of women in Pakistan. He briefly discussed the different laws of inheritance enacted in sub-continent during the period of British rule namely (1) The Punjab Laws Act 1872, (2) N.W.F.P. Law and Justice Regulation 1901, (3) The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act 1937, (4) The NWFP Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 1935. He further discussed laws that were enacted after the inception of Pakistan and the laws that currently govern inheritance matters in Pakistan, namely (1) West Pakistan Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1962, (2) The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973, (3) The Muslim Family Law Ordinance, 1961, (4) National Commission on the Status of the Women Act, 2012, (5) Pakistan Penal Code 1860, (6) Criminal Procedure Code 1898, (7) The Succession Act, 1925, (8) Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Act 2020, (9) Balochistan Commission on the Status of Women Act 2017, (10) Balochistan Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates Act, 2022, (11) Balochistan Land Revenue (Amendment) Act, 2022.
Mr. Mufti Ghulam Majid, Senior Research Officer, Council of Islamic Ideology briefly discussed the Islamic law and differentiated the difference between pre-Islamic and sharia laws and discussed that sharia law is commonly not followed in the society. He said that male as well as female has a right in inheritance left by the parents. He added that there is no tangible inheritance law till date in Pakistan, He expressed the need to have a codified law of inheritance in the country defining all the rights of legal heirs including women and children. He also noted the penalty of ten years imprisonment, in case of depriving women from inheritance in the law under Pakistan Penal Code. He also mentioned section 4 of the Muslim Family Law Ordinance, 1961 that Deals with situation of succession where grandchildren, of a predeceased son or daughter, can inherit the share their parent would have received from the grandfather’s property had they been alive, although CII has reservations regarding this provision. Honourable Member and Provincial Minister of Finance, Engr. Zamarak Khan Achakzai discussed the inheritance issues in the society and reiterated the need to spread awareness of women rights and empowerment in our society. Ms. Fatima Iqbal, Provincial coordinator, Mustehkam Parlimaan, said that we must allow for family courts or spaces with regards to accessing to justice and their rights especially inheritance rights. She also said transgender should not be deprived from availing inheritance. She also said that we must all sit together for drafting a suitable inheritance law covering all aspects protecting women inheritance rights.
Syed Munawar Ahmed Hashmi, Senior Director Provincial ombudsman (Mohtasib), Balochistan, briefly discussed the women rights of inheritance mentioned in the Holy Quran. He also discussed current status of women and ways to protect the women inheritance rights. He said that the office of Mohtasib deals with inheritance issues and protect the rights of women after the succession certificate is issued by the courts under Succession Act 1925. Ms. Fauzia Shaheen, Chairperson Balochistan Commission on the Status of Women briefly discussed that establishment of BCSW under an Act of 2017 and is an independent commission. The role of BCSW is to review laws, polices, rules and regulations related to status and rights of women in Balochistan and propose a new legislation for gender mainstreaming. The BCSW also conducts data generation under segregated data for the planning purpose. To address women rights violation and summon to courts such issues. Honourable MPA Mr. Ahmed Nawaz Baloch greeted the participants and appreciated the PIPS for conducting a session on inheritance laws for honorable members of Balochistan. He mentioned that women of our rural areas especially are deprived of their basic rights. It is important to spread awareness of our Islamic teachings and our true values that speaks of protecting women rights. He noted that women are not given their rights in our society. We must work hard to spread the awareness and knowledge at local level. Honourable MPA Ms. Shakeela Dehwar, thanked the Honourable Speaker Balochistan Assembly for allowing to conduct like seminars and conferences. She also thanked and appreciated GIZ and PIPS for conducting this important and meaningful seminar for the member of Balochistan Assembly and the Women Parliamentary Caucus. She described that woman rights are protected in the Holy Quran. She mentioned that Article 23 of the Constitution gives every citizen the right to acquire property anywhere in Pakistan. She recommended focusing on legislating bills on matters related to women rights and suggested to the civil society to take part in implementation of inheritance law. In the end, she thanked the PIPS and Mustehkam Parlimaan for conducting such a fruitful roundtable session on the issue.