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Girl’s minimum marriage age should be 18: Sethi

LAHORE: Famous political analyst Najam Sethi has said becoming a wife and a mother is a great responsibility and, therefore, girls’ minimum age for marriage should be fixed at 18 years.

He said Pakistan’s law says a person could be termed a mature and responsible person when he/she reaches the age of 18.Talking in Geo News programme, Apas Ki Baat, the analyst said the current law of the land says that a girl can be married off at 16 years of age. He said Maulana Shirani says that girls can be married off at the age of eight or nine years, though others say even 16 years is too young an age for a girl to get married.

He said it is totally wrong that a girl may become a responsible person at the age of eight or nine years. He said the United Nations has clearly defined human rights and Pakistan is also a signatory to the UN Charter on Human Rights. We believe that all human beings have rights, which should be protected, Sethi added.

He said it is normally stated that all Pakistani laws are in accordance with the tenets of Islam. Then it is strange as to why Maulana Shirani raised the issue of the age of girls’ marriage at this point in time. Our religion is very liberal, he added.

Speaking in the programme, Allama Tahir Ashrafi said that the age of Hazrat Aysha is quoted while discussing the girls’ marriage age. However, there are different Islamic references in this regard. He said he had made it clear earlier that all other references in the Islamic history should be kept in mind in which Hazrat Aysha’s age has been reported as 11, 13, and 17 years also. In some books, it is also reported as seven years and nine years. We should not quote references of only seven years and nine years and also take into account references of 13 and 17 years.

In reply to a question, Maulana Ashrafi said that some ill-minded people are present in our research institutions and they do not want the world to see any good aspects of Islam. “Quran itself says they should be married off when they reach puberty and become wise because they have to handle many responsibilities in the post-marriage life.”

Sethi said Muslim countries around the world had fixed the age of marriage, adding that clerics, scientists and doctors should discuss the matter as the health experts argued that the lives of girls with underage marriage were at risk while giving birth to babies. Who would be responsible for the death of a girl during pregnancy if she was married at the age of 12, he posed a question. He further said the matter would not be resolved by fixing an age limit for marriage.

Sethi said the role of Constitution and Islam had again become an agenda item because of the Taliban as their associates and the negotiating committees’ members with religious outlook always appeared on TV screens. He further said the CII should keep itself within its domain and avoid controversial issues. But the media also had a role in the whole episode as it always showed contentious matters, he added. Sethi called for the government’s role so that these issues could be clarified.

Talking about the direct talks between government-Taliban talks, Sethi said the Taliban didn’t like the lecture on jihad given by Rustam Shah Mohmand during the meeting which marred the environment. Later, Major Aamir calmed down the two sides and told them that the people of Pakistan and the media were saying dialogue with them was a futile exercise.

You people are against state and constitution, therefore don’t impose conditions. Some of their points were understood, from their side people with different temperaments were there. Taliban said Ali Haider Gilani and Shahbaz Taseer belong to the PPP and they were against them and they considered them combatant prisoners. In exchange for Prof Ajmal, they demanded the release of their three men.

Najam Sethi said Taliban want the army to withdraw from their areas so they can make a base of their state and they can freely move but the army is resisting this step. The condition of withdrawing from the Mehsud areas is unacceptable to the army.

Sethi said a list by the Taliban was received 12 days ago on which work is being done and now another list has been received, so it will take another 10 to 12 days. It is likely that so-called non-combatant prisoners are released but it will take time. The government will make efforts to release some people but no big breakthrough is in sight. Within a month the state and Taliban will be at daggers drawn and the present situation is unstable. He said the Taliban committee is getting too much media coverage and their stance is being projected, where is government’s spokesman. “Where has Irfan Siddiqui gone, he used to give briefing but now there is complete silence,” he added.

The News