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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif introduced a measure Friday to create a new Islamic order in Pakistan and establish a whole legal system based on the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

The constitutional amendment quickly was condemned by human rights activists, opposition politicians and constitutional experts. But with Sharif controlling a two-thirds majority in Parliament, the amendment was likely to pass with little difficulty.

Civil libertarians accused the embattled Sharif of using Islam to buttress his power.

In a speech to Parliament that was carried on national television, Sharif sought to assure minorities -- which make up barely 5 percent of the country's 140 million people -- and women that the new Islamic laws would not violate their rights.

He emphasized education for women in an apparent attempt to allay concerns that Pakistan's version of Islamic law would resemble that of neighboring Afghanistan's, where the Taliban rule.

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