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Benazir Bhutto’s daughter criticises amendment to controversial Ramzan bill

An ordinance prohibits Muslims from eating or drinking in public during Ramzan. Earlier this week, the Senate Standing committee on Religious Affairs unanimously approved an amendment which increases punishment and fines for breaking this law.

world Updated: Jun 26, 2017 15:46 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari,former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto,Ramzan
Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari (L) and sister Asifa with their mother’s portrait.(Reuters File)

Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari, the elder daughter of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, has severely criticised a parliamentary bill which seeks to punish restaurants and hotels for serving food in the day during the holy month of Ramzan, which starts later in May.

Under the Ehtram-e-Ramazan Ordinance, 1981, it is illegal for Muslims to eat or drink in public in the day during Ramzan. Earlier this week, the Senate Standing committee on Religious Affairs unanimously approved the Ehteram-e-Ramazan (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which increases punishment and fines imposed for eating or drinking in public.

Bhutto-Zardari took to Twitter to air her displeasure at the amendment.

“People are going to die from heat stroke and dehydration with this ridiculous law. Not everyone is able. This is not Islam,” she posted.

She later elaborated her initial tweet on the bill, writing, “We are more than capable of resisting temptation and keeping our fasts.”

Responding to another user’s tweet, Bhutto-Zardari questioned the presence of harsh punishments in Islamic law for those who eat and drink during Ramzan.

She insisted that the law was outrageous as it failed to consider that not everyone will be fasting in the month of Ramzan. “Not everyone in Pakistan will be fasting ─ Children in school, the elderly, people with medical issues ─ Should we arrest them for drinking water?” Bakhtawar tweeted.

Two years ago, a severe heat wave swept through Pakistan, with temperatures soaring as high as 49 °C. The high temperatures resulted in the deaths of about 2,000 people from dehydration and heat stroke, a majority in Sindh province and its capital Karachi.

Many of those who died were fasting for Ramzan. The crisis prompted some clerics to advise people to stop fasting if their health is at risk.

First Published: May 13, 2017 18:17 IST