Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Christians mark beginning of fasting season today

Christians in Pakistan and around the world will observe the beginning of the Lenten season with Ash Wednesday today.

Ash Wednesday is observed as a sign of repentance of the whole community. The ashes are placed on the forehead by the priest with the Sign of the Cross and the words: Remember you are dust, and into dust you shall return.

“Those ashes are last year’s palms from Palm Sunday. They are burnt and ashes are made from them and then blessed,” he said. During Lent Christians are encouraged to fast, pray, give alms and seek repentance for their sins for forty days in order to prepare for Easter.

“The time of Lent is important for us because it gives time to us to change and become closer to God, the priest said. In his message for Lent 2012 on the Vatican website, Pope Benedict XVI states that “in a world which demands of Christians a renewed witness of love and fidelity to the Lord, may all of us feel the urgent need to anticipate one another in charity, service and good works.” Masses will be held in churches across the city at different timings to observe the day.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Landmark women’s bill clears last hurdle

The National Commission on the Status of Women Bill, 2012, was finally passed in Senate without a single note of dissent. The bill was tabled by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Human Rights Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar.
“The commission will be independent and will have autonomous status with full financial and administrative powers,” Khokhar said. “Its fundamental functions will be to examine policies, programmes and other measures taken by the government for gender equality.”
Chairman Senate congratulated all the members of Senate on the sixth consecutive landmark women-specific legislation passed by Parliament in the last two years.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani also congratulated members of both houses over the passage of the bill.
Efforts to have an autonomous body for women’s rights were first initiated over seven years ago by then chairperson of the National Commission on Status of Women Justice Majida Rizvi. However, due to unknown reasons, the bill could not be passed in Parliament for over seven years.
After the 18th Amendment, the women’s commission was selected to remain a national entity in view of Pakistan’s international commitments, while the women’s ministry was devolved to the provinces. In light of the 18th Amendment, a new bill was drafted by Senator Raza Rabbani and was presented to the prime minister and the cabinet on behalf of the implementation commission for the 18th Amendment. The bill was approved on June 29, 2011.
After it was tabled in the National Assembly on October 13, 2011, the Human Rights Committee was asked to review and improve it.
The bill was passed by the National Assembly on January 19, with some amendments proposed by the Opposition and treasury members.
The commission will:
• Assess implementation and make suitable recommendations to concerned authorities considered necessary for effective impact
• Review all laws, rules and regulations affecting the status and rights of women
• Suggest repeal, amendment or new legislation essential to eliminate discrimination
• Sponsor, steer and encourage research to generate information
• Conduct dialogue with non-governmental organisations, experts and individuals in society
• Help facilitate and monitor implementation of international instruments and obligations affecting adult and minor females to which Pakistan is a signatory