Bill To Enforce Islamic Principles Passed In Pakistani Province

Karachi, Pakistan - The Islamic alliance ruling Pakistan's North- West Frontier Province Monday passed a bill to create a department "to promote virtue and check evil practices" in society.

Officials of the department will have the powers of police to see that Muslims observe Islamic principles and abstain from what the religion abhors.

Media reports said the secular parties represented in the provincial assembly boycotted the legislative proceedings after the Islamists refused them permission to move amendments in the controversial Hisba Bill.

Federal Information Minister Mohammad Ali Durrani rejected the bill as "illegal and unconstitutional," arguing that it did not remove the objections the Supreme Court had raised after the bill was adopted first time by the Islamic alliance last year.

The NWFP governor had refused to authenticate the first bill and, as agent of the federal government, sent it to President Pervez Musharraf who then referred it to the Supreme Court for an opinion.

Secular and liberal forces in Pakistan opposed the bill, describing it as an attempt by the Islamists to replicate the harsh laws the Taliban introduced in the name of Islam in neighbouring Afghanistan.

President Musharraf has been propagating "enlightened moderation" to his Islamic nation since the 9/11 attacks on the US which forced him to turn his back on the radical Taliban and join the unpopular US-led war on terror.