05/17/2017, 13.35
PAKISTAN

Fines and jail for those who smoke, drink, or eat during Ramadan in Pakistan

The Senate’s Standing Committee on Religious Affairs passes the Ehtram-e-Ramazan (Amendment) Bill 2017. Hotel owners who break the law could get fines of up to US$ 240. Cinemas and TV stations could get fines up to US$ 4,800. For the daughter of the late Benazir Bhutto, the law is “ridiculous”.

Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Anyone caught drinking, eating or smoking during the sacred month of Ramadan faces financial sanctions and up to three months in jail.

Last week, the Standing Committee on Religious Affairs of the Senate of Pakistan approved a motion to that effect presented by Senator Tanveer Khan in January.

The decision has triggered comments and criticisms on social media. One comes from Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari, daughter of the late former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and former President Asif Ali Zardari, who is known for taking strong positions on the country's hot issues.

“[P]eople [a]r[e] going 2 die from heat stroke &dehydration with this ridiculous law. Not every1 is able. This is not Islam,” she wrote on Tweeter.

On 11 May, the Committee passed Ehtram-and-Ramazan (Amendment) Bill 2017, which punishes hotel owners who break the law with fines ranging from 500 to 25,000 rupees (US$ 4.8 to US$ 240). Anyone who eats during the sacred fasting period for Muslims will pay a fine of 500 rupees and may be jailed.

Under the previous law, the Ehtram-e-Ramazan Ordinance 1981, eating and drinking in public for Muslims was banned during Ramadan daytime hours, although Islamic experts allowed vulnerable groups of the population to break the fast during hot hours.

Now everyone will be punished, including cinemas and television channels that could be forced to pay up to 500,000 rupees (almost US$ 4,800).

“But not every1 in 🇵🇰 will be fasting -children in school/elderly/people with medical problems. Should we arrest them 4 drinking water,” Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari said on tweeter.

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