SHARIAT COURT Pakistan’s Federal Shariat Court is the highest Islamic law-making body in the country It was established in 1980 by President Zia ul-Haq, who amended the constitution to allow for the Islamization of the legal structure The Shariat Court was empowered to entertain requests for the review of existing laws to see whether they were “repugnant to Islam” Zia, after causing the court to be set up, constrained its authority; he excluded the laws relating to fiscal, procedural, or family matters from its jurisdiction until 1990 In 1980-2000 the Federal Shariat court reviewed 1,511 laws and declared 267 to be wholly or partly “repugnant to Islam” In June 1990, while Benazir Bhutto was prime minister, the court’s “period of exclusion” expired and it acquired the right to examine fiscal matters A number of requests were made to the court to examine financial laws, and on 14 November 1991 it gave an opinion concerning 20 laws dealing with a variety of institutions and issues The government was told to amend these laws by 30 June 1992, failing which “the various provisions of the laws discussed in judgment and held repugnant to the injunctions of Islam will cease to have effect” In January 1992, the Muslim Commercial Bank appealed to the Supreme Court to extend beyond 30 June 1992 the period allowed by the Shariat Court before its judgment came into effect The bank’s request was accepted and, as a result, Pakistan continues to live in a legal cul-de-sac, with little clarity as to which legal system is paramount, particularly in the areas of economics and finance


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