Pakistani state bans New Year parties

An Islamist-ruled state in Pakistan has banned New Year celebrations around 31 December and vowed to crack down on un-Islamic behaviour during the holiday.

    The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal alliance upholds Islamic laws

    "We received the orders that no one should be allowed to arrange a dance or musical parties and use alcohol on New Year's Eve," said a senior government official in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) on Saturday.

    The conservative NWFP was won in elections in October last year by the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an alliance of Islamist parties that includes supporters of Afghanistan's ousted Taliban.
    The MMA campaigned on promises to enforce Sharia law and in support of the withdrawal of US forces based in Pakistan in the campaign against international terrorism.
    "The MMA government will not allow any one to resort to any kind of unethical and un-Islamic activities on New Year's Eve," provincial senior minister Siraj al-Haq told the NWFP assembly on Friday.

    Moral campaign

    "These (celebrations) are un-Islamic and unethical and the time has come to start the New Year with an Islamic calendar."

    The Muslim calendar is based on a lunar year of 12 months.

    Since coming to power, the NWFP leader Akram Khan Durrani has launched an anti-obscenity drive which includes a campaign against gambling, pornographic and unlicenced cinemas and the reinforcement of an existing ban on alcohol.

    In early June, MMA succeeded in pushing a bill through the local parliament making Sharia the supreme law.

    Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup in 1999, has accused the Islamists of defying the people and Pakistan's founders by giving the country a negative image when it needed to be progressive and modern.



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