Legality of conversion from Islam to Christianity, legal or social actions taken against Muslim women who marry Christians but do not convert to Christianity, in Pakistan. [PAK1705]

Following the 1977 military coup, Pakistan underwent a process of Islamization, which reportedly resulted in discriminatory treatment of minorities and included a campaign against women's emancipation. [ Religion and Asian Politics: A National Dialogue - Pakistan, (Hong Kong: Christian Conference of Asia - International Affairs, 1987), pp. 27-28. ] The law of evidence, among other Muslim laws incorporated into national legislation, considers a woman's evidence to be worth half of a man's testimony. [ Ibid, p. 28.] Non-Muslims are forbidden to convert Muslims to another religion, a crime punishable by law. [Pakistan: Struggle for Human Rights, (Hong Kong/Singapore: Christian Conference of Asia - International Affairs, 1986), p. 105.] For Muslims themselves, conversion is reportedly dangerous and may be punished under section 295A of the Pakistan Penal Code which imposes up to two years imprisonment for outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizen. [Rights of Religious and Other Minorities (Pakistan), (Geneva: International Commission of Jurists, 1987), p. 9.] This reportedly inhibits, but does not fully prevent, conversions to minority religions from taking place. However, a bill proposing conversion from Islam to another religion be considered a capital offence, was presented to Parliament for consideration in 1987. [Ibid.] Reports on its final approval or rejection could not be found among the sources presently available to the IRBDC.

Non-Muslims are subject to Islamic law and, as indicated in the Constitution, Islamic injunctions are considered supreme law. [ Ibid, p. 10.] Article 227 of the Pakistani Constitution states:

"All existing laws shall be brought in conformity with the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, in this Part referred to as the Injunctions of Islam, and no law shall be enacted which is repugnant to such Injunctions.

In the application of this clause to the personal law of any Muslim sect, the expression "Quran and Sunnah" shall mean the Quran and Sunnah as interpreted by that sect." [ From the Pakistan Constitution as published in Constitutions of the Countries of the World, (New York: Oceana Publications, Inc., 1979).]

This article of the Constitution indicates that Islamic law is applied by each sect according to their particular interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah. Further interpretation of the legality or punishment for conversion and inter-religious marriage, apart from what is stated above, is beyond the mandate of the IRBDC.

Articles 19 and 20 of the Pakistan Constitution, as published in Constitutions of the Countries of the World, indicate citizens' rights regarding freedom of speech, press and religion are restricted by law and enacted to perpetuate the glory of Islam or the defence of decency and morality. Please find attached a copy of articles from the abovementioned publication. Also attached is a copy of Keesing's Record of World Events, (London, Longman Publishing Group), October 1988, p. 3628, which reports the introduction of the Shariah or the Islamic Penal Code. Unfortunately, no further details or more recent reports on this legislation could be found among the sources available at present to the IRBDC.