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Year 2014 x
Article

Legislative Drafting in Plain Urdu Language for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

A Question of Complex Intricacies

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2014
Keywords Urdu, Pakistan, multilingual jurisdictions, legislative drafting, plain language movement
Authors Mazhar Ilahi
AbstractAuthor's information

    The plain language movement (PLM) for the writing of laws calls for improving legislative clarity by drafting the laws in a clear, simple, and precise manner. However, the main purpose of this aspiration is to facilitate the ordinary legislative audience to understand the laws with the least effort. In this respect, turning the pages of recent history reveals that this movement for plain language statutes has mostly been debated and analysed in the context of English as a language of the legislative text. However, in some parts of the multilingual world like India and Pakistan, English is not understood by the ordinary population at a very large scale but is still used as a language of the legislative text. This disparity owes its genesis to different country-specific ethnolingual and political issues. In this context but without going into the details of these ethnolingual and political elements, this article aims to analyse the prospects of plain Urdu legislative language in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan by by analyzing (1) the possibility of producing a plain language version of the legislative text in Urdu and (2) the potential benefit that the ordinary people of Pakistan can get from such plain statutes in terms of the themes of the PLM. In answering these questions, the author concludes that neither (at present) is it possible to produce plain Urdu versions of the statute book in Pakistan nor is the population of Pakistan likely to avail any current advantage from the plain Urdu statutes and further that, for now, it is more appropriate to continue with the colonial heritage of English as the language of the legislative text.


Mazhar Ilahi
The author is Solicitor in England and Wales and currently an Associate Research Fellow as well as Director of the Legislative Drafting Clinic at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. Previously, he has worked as a Civil Judge/Judicial Magistrate and practised as Advocate of High Courts in Pakistan. He is also a country (Pakistan) representative of ‘Clarity’, an international association promoting plain legal language.

    Under the Kafala system, which applies in all Arab countries, migrant workers must attain a work entry visa and residential permit, which is possible only if they are working for a domestic institution or corporation or a citizen of the respective country. Each and every employer is required, based on the Kafala system, to adopt all legal and economic responsibilities for all of the employer's workers during their contractual period. By giving wide-ranging powers and responsibilities unilaterally to employers, the Kafala system subjects workers to abysmal and exploitative working conditions, violence, and human rights abuses. Some of these problems have recently made headlines in the United States and in Europe in connection with the campus being built by New York University in Abu Dhabi. While NYU imposed a code of labor standards on its direct contractual partners, it claimed to have no means of controlling subcontractors. Nor did NYU try very hard, it seems, to verify compliance even by its direct contractual partners.
    Migrant workers make up at least 30 percent of the population of Saudi Arabia and 49 percent of Saudi Arabia's entire workforce. Employers control Saudi Arabia's Kafala system, in which migrant workers are the weakest link. Studies and international organizations report that foreigners employed in Saudi Arabia have returned home with many complaints. In 2006, Saudi Arabia re-examined all laws including its labor law. This re-examination resulted in abolishing some terms used in labor law, such as the kafala system, but the system remains as is. The new labor law includes many positive changes, but not enough according to the assessment of local and international scholars and observers. In this paper, I will reveal laws, practices and patterns that essentially cause the vulnerability of migrant workers, and I will suggest effective alternative strategies. This paper should contribute to our growing understanding of issues of concern for migrant workers in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries and help to develop specific and necessary legal and institutional responses.


Majed M. Alzahrani
LL.M, Indiana University, Robert H. McKinney School of Law. The author would like to thank Professor Frank Emmert for advice and guidance in the production of this article.

    The purpose of this article is to illuminate one of the contemporary legal dilemmas in Islamic law, namely the appointment of female judges in Muslim countries. The methodology employed is library-based research. The focus of this article is to determine the legal status of appointments of female judges in Shariah courts. It is argued here that female judges can be appointed in Muslim countries and that the main reason for this is that there is no explicit prohibition of it in the fundamental sources of Islamic law. However, the claims that it is contrary to Islamic law to appoint female judges are also discussed here. The outcome of this article is to prove that there is nothing wrong in Islam in appointing female judges as long as they fulfil the necessary conditions.


Aishath Muneeza
Postgraduate Student, Harun M. Hashim Law Centre, International Islamic University Malaysia.
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