Pakistan approves Hindu marriages

family law

The President of Pakistan has signed a bill which grants marriage rights to the country’s Hindu population.

President Mamnoon Hussain gave his official assent on Sunday on the advice of his Prime Minister. It was the final step for the bill after it was approved by the Senate and the National Assembly, the two houses of the Pakistani parliament. The President’s approval means the Hindu Marriage Bill 2017 has now been enacted into law.

This new law represents a historic step forward for Pakistani Hindus as their marriages have not been legally recognised throughout most of the majority Muslim nation since its 1947 partition with India. They make up less than two per cent of the total population, which is currently more than 195 million according to the United Nations.

The new law will also allow Hindus to divorce and remarry. In a statement following the signing, President Hussain said Hindus in Pakistan were “as patriotic as any other community and, therefore, it is the responsibility of the state to provide equal protection to them”. He also announced that the government would appoint registrars in areas convenient for Hindus to officially register their marriages.

Unsurprisingly, prominent Hindus in the country have welcomed this development. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani is head of the Pakistan Hindu Council. He called the new law “a welcome step” which would “remove all difficulties for the registration of Hindu marriages”.

This new national law comes a little over a year after the southern province of Sindh enacted similar legislation. In their regional bill, local lawmakers included a clause stating that if one spouse converts to Islam the marriage can be annulled.

Photo by David Poe via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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