Last August, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced his intention to rule Pakistan under a system of Islamic Shari'a law by proposing a constitutional amendment that would eliminate all secular laws and institute laws based on the Muslim holy book, the Koran.
Under the amendment, the government would have complete power to "prescribe what is right and to forbid what is wrong" and would require citizens to pray 5 times daily. The amendment has passed in the Pakistan's National Assembly and is pending in the Senate.
Just three months after proposing this amendment, Sharif publicly likened his plans to the rule of the repressive Taliban regime, which has subjected women to a "living death" in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has already imposed Islamic laws in tribal areas in the country's Northwest Frontier province, mimicking the Taliban regime in nearby Afghanistan. Courts headed by Muslim clerics will rule on all civil and criminal cases, and those found guilty will be subject to grand-scale, public punishments including lashing, amputations of hand and feet, and executions.
Under the Taliban, Afghan women and girls have been banned from attending schools and universities, and from working to support themselves. Since women are only allowed to receive treatment from female doctors, and female doctors are not allowed to work, women lack basic health care. Women are banned from leaving their homes unless a brother, father, son, accompanies them, and must wear a debilitating head-to-toe garment called a burqa when they do leave their homes. In homes where women live and in public buses, windows are painted opaque so that male passersby cannot see inside, and women cannot see out. Women are also forbidden from wearing shoes that make noise when they walk.
Media Resources: AP - January 16, 1999 and Feminist Majority Foundation