According to British minister Sayeeda Warsi, Pakistan is failing to live up to one of the tenets of Islam which guarantees rights to all women, The Guardian reported on Thursday.
Warsi is a Conservative party co-chairman and minister without portfolio, who is the first Muslim to sit as a full member of the cabinet.
Lady Warsi said Pakistan is denying rights granted 1,400 years ago in the Quran.
Warsi, 40, whose father arrived in Britain from Pakistan in 1960, said in a Guardian interview that, in a “nutshell”, Pakistan is not living up to the ideals of its founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Warsi said she had also raised concerns about the treatment of minorities in Pakistan. Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s only Christian minister, was shot dead in March after he called for the reform of blasphemy laws that impose the death sentence for insulting Islam.
Warsi said: “I said to them … let me talk to you about the rights of minorities, the protection of women and the concept of meritocracy. I gave real examples of how Islam embodies all of those values, and the question I put was: my country wasn’t formed in the name of Islam, but yours was; so why does my country embody the values of the faith that your country was formed on the basis of?”
Warsi said her heritage enabled her to speak out. “This was not the west arriving with an ideological perspective of women’s rights about to impose them on a nation. I understand this culture, I deeply understand the faith and the culture that is part of this nation … But what I don’t see is you in many ways having the very values upon which the nation was formed, the vision of the founder of Pakistan.”
Last week, a Thomson Reuters Foundation expert poll showed Pakistan as the third most dangerous country in the world for women.
According to the survey, those polled cited cultural, tribal and religious practices harmful to women, including acid attacks, child and forced marriage and punishment or retribution by stoning or other physical abuse.