After two days of debate which concluded last evening, the bill will now be sent to the President for his approval in order to make it a law, although the opposition Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal(MMA) and Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League(N) made a last ditch effort to defer the bill by moving a motion to send it to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII).
The two parties also suggested amendments to various clauses of the bill, but these were also rejected and the bill was passed by the National Assembly.
The ruling PML and its allies, including Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as well as other nationalist parties, voted in favour of the bill, while the MMA, which had boycotted voting in the lower house, voted against it this time. Nawaz Sharif's party, however, abstained itself from the voting.
Meanwhile, the MMA has already announced to resign from the assemblies in protest against approval of the bill, which repeals the controversial Islamic Hudood Ordinance, promulgated by former military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in 1979.
While the ordinance was being considered highly repressive against women, the MMA and other religious parties have been opposing repeal or any amendments in the ordinance, stressing that it was in line with the teachings of the Holy Quran and Prophet Mohammad and therefore, needed not to be touched.
However, one of the main amendments, passed by the parliament in the present bill, excluded rape from the sphere of the religious law and placed it under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
With rape cases coming under PPC, the requirement to produce four male witnesses also stand repealed. It will now allow convictions to be made on the basis of forensic and circumstantial evidence.
Law Minister Wasi Zafar, in his concluding up speech in the Senate claimed that the Hudood Ordinance imposed in 1979 was un-Islamic and provoked discrimination against women.
''The so called Hadood laws promoted vulgarity ... The ban on liquor promoted narcotics,'' he said.
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