In an unprecedented move, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) on Wednesday declared that the killing of a woman in the name of honour is against the law of the land and also an un-Islamic act. Do our ears deceive us; has the council finally made some positive contribution to the nation? While we would love to give them the benefit of the doubt, behind this sound-bite lie the same misogyny and moral codes that make honour killings a reality. The learned Mulana Sherani may begrudgingly call honour killing un-Islamic, but the rest of the declaration is a tacit approval for this practice. It is something, we can admit, but too little.

After this single line of condemnation, the Maulana spent the rest of his time magnanimously defending the killer; saying that he must be given the benefit of the doubt, since he had an “emotional reaction” upon witnessing such an “immoral act” act. The Maulana wants us to understand the emotions of a man who doused his sister with fuel and set her on fire, but will not even try to understand the petty wish of a girl to marry from her own free will, or her pain and agony.

Throughout this declaration the Maulana continued to refer to extramarital affairs and consensual marriage as “obscenity” and “moral sin” – affirming everything a young radicalised patriarch believes. He endorses punishment for such sins, but told us that the state has laws to deal with it; seeming genuinely disappointed about this fact.

While giving its own “Women Protection Bill” the CII went to great lengths to propose situations in which the wife can be lightly beaten; refusing intercourse, not dressing properly etc. It also took the time to suggest banning co-education and female nurses. Yet the CII did not suggest a single law change when it comes to honour killing. The existence of blood money laws that create an easily exploitable loophole seems the perfect candidate for reform, but the CII did not even propose tougher sentences. Unless the religious condemnation of honour killing is reflected in law, culprits will continue to get away with these crimes.

In the end, this begrudging declaration seems to be a result of the tremendous pressure the CII has been under – rather than a miraculous change of heart. The burning of a girl in Lahore, the altercation between JUI-F Senator Hafiz Hamdullah and Marvi Sirmed on live television and the Council’s own resounding silence in the face of attacks against women has been a constant fixture of the public’s discourse. Perhaps the CII was told to tone down its misogyny.

This declaration is a flash in the pan, and a flawed one at that. The fact remains that the CII is still an obsolete body that is inhibiting progressive reforms.