Here you may find information about family law in Pakistan. Our team of family lawyers best assist their clients in resolving family law affairs herein Pakistan. The legal system is based on English common law and Islamic law. The former is more influential in commercial law while the later is more influential in personal status (and more recently, criminal and tax law to some extent).

After the partition of India in 1947, the legislation relating to Muslim family law introduced in British India continued to govern personal status. A seven-member Commission on Marriage and Family Laws was established in 1955 with a remit to consider the personal status laws applicable in the new state and determine the areas needing reform. The Commission submitted its report in 1956, suggesting a number of reforms, including, for example, the consideration of all triple talaqs (except for the third of three) as single, revocable repudiations.

The report led to much debate, with many leading ulama (including Maulana Abual Ala Maududi, leader of the Jamaat-i-Islami) opposing its recommendations. The Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961 adopted some of the provisions of the Report of the Marriage and Family Laws Commission, aiming to reform divorce law and inheritance law relating to orphaned grandchildren, introduce compulsory marriage registration, place restrictions on the practice of polygamy, and reform the law relating to dower and maintenance in marriage and divorce, as well as to amend existing legislation with relation to marriage age. Again, various sectors of the ulama regarded this as unjustified interference or tampering with the classical law. When the first Constitution of Pakistan was finally promulgated in 1956, it included a provision that came to be referred to as the repugnancy clause. This clause stated that no law repugnant to Islamic injunctions would be enacted and that all existing laws would be considered in light of this provision, in order to institute appropriate amendments. This repugnancy provision has been retained and actually strengthened in the succeeding Constitutions.

After a military take-over in 1999, the Constitution was again suspended. During 2000, discussions continued about possible amendments to the Constitution.

Schools of Fiqh

The predominant madhhab is the Hanafi, and there are sizeable Jafari and Ismaili minorities. The legal status of the Ahmadis is somewhat unclear. They self-identify as Sunni Muslims, but were declared non-Muslims by the state. In 1974, then-Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto finally conceded to a long-standing campaign waged by conservative religious elements agitating for the official designation of Ahmadis as non-Muslims. There have been Ahmadi initiatives to adopt a modified version of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961 to be applied to Ahmadi personal status cases. There are also Christians, Zoroastrian, Hindu, Sikh and Jewish minorities in Pakistan.

Constitutional Status of Islamic Law

The third Constitution was adopted on 10th April 1973, suspended in 1977, and re-instituted in 1985; it has undergone numerous amendments over time. It was suspended again in 1999 and remained suspended at the time of writing.

Article 1 of the Constitution declares that Pakistan shall be known as "the Islamic Republic of Pakistan" and Article 2 declares Islam the state religion. In 1985, the Objectives Resolution contained in the preamble of the Constitution was made a substantive provision by the insertion of Article 2A, thereby requiring all laws to be brought into consonance with the Quran and sunnah. Chapter 3A establishes the Federal Shariat Court and stipulates that the Court shall take up the examination of any law or provision of law that may be repugnant to the "injunctions of Islam, as laid down in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah". If a law or provision is determined to be repugnant, the Court is to provide notice to the federal or provincial government specifying the reasons for the decision. The Court may also examine any decisions relating to the application of the hudud penalties which have been decided by any criminal court, and may suspend the sentence if there is any question as to the correctness, legality or propriety of any finding, sentence or order or the regularity of the proceedings. The Supreme Court also has a Shariat Appellate Bench empowered to review the decisions of the Federal Shariat Court and consisting of three Muslim Supreme Court judges and up to two ulama. Part IX of the Constitution is entitled Islamic Provisions and provides for the Islamization of all existing laws, reiterating that no laws shall be enacted which are repugnant to the injunctions of Islam. An explanation appended to Part IX clarifies that, with respect to personal law, the expression "Quran and Sunnah" means the laws of any sect as interpreted by that sect.

The Islamic provisions also provide for the creation of an Islamic Ideology Council of 8 to 20 members appointed by the President. They must have "knowledge of the principles and philosophy of Islam as enunciated in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, or understanding of the economic, political, legal or administrative problems of Pakistan." The Islamic Council is meant to represent various schools of thought as far as that may be practical, and at least one woman should be appointed. Its function is to make recommendations to the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) and the Provincial Assemblies "as to the ways and means of enabling and encouraging the Muslims of Pakistan to order their lives individually and collectively in all respects in accordance with the principles and concepts of Islam as enunciated in the Holy Quran and Sunnah." The Council also determines for the federal and provincial governments whether or not proposed laws are repugnant, and compiles for them in suitable form "such Injunctions of Islam as can be given legislative effect.

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