System to Isolate Hardline Militants
Mohammad Abdul Qudoos (KT Exclusive)
16 April 2009 Khaleej Times OnlineDUBAI — The enforcement
of the Islamic justice system in Pakistan’s northwestern Swat Valley d
surrounding areas will isolate extremist element and those opposed to
the system, says the leader of the political party which inked the deal
on the Shariah law.
In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, Asfandyar Wali
Khan, President of Awami National Party, which rules the North West Frontier
Province (NWFP), welcomed the official announcement in Pakistan on Wednesday
implementing the regulation that imposes the Islamic justice system in
the province’s Malakand Division which includes Swat, Dir and Bunir districts.
The agreement to bring peace to the region by imposing the Islamic justice
system was signed by the ANP with a local cleric Maulana Sufi Mohammed,
President ofthe now defunct Tehrik-e-Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi, in February
that would end a 16-month insurgency in which hundreds of people were
killed and thousands displaced.
The agreement was signed by the NWFP’s government with the approval of
the federal government. President Asif Ali Zardari signed the law on Sunday
after Parliament passed a resolution urging him to do so.
“I do not call it an ideal agreement,” Khan said, adding, “But, we have
to look at the ground reality and take the best option available.”
He said that the provincial government opted to talk to the people of
the region who wanted Shariah law and the result was the agreement which
reflected their aspirations and would bring peace. “All wars are fought
on two fronts. One of them is to win the hearts and minds of the people.
We have just done that,” he said. Khan said that similar agreements were
signed during the Pakistan People’s Party government in 1994 and by the
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government in 1999, but were never enforced.
The agreement signed by the ANP is the same as the previous agreements
except for the addition of two points, he explained.
Firstly, a bench of the High Court will be constituted in Mingora for
the convenience of the people of the Malakand Division. This will be the
third bench in the province.
Secondly, a time limit has been fixed for the courts to decide cases.
Criminal cases will have to be decided within four months and civil cases
within six months. “This is meant to expedite the provision of justice
to the people,” Khan said.
He said that the people of Swat Valley and surrounding areas are happy
over the implementation of the agreement.
“A textile shopkeeper called me from Mingora saying that three girl students
came to his shop on Tuesday to buy cloth. Girls and boys schools have
re-opened after the peace accord. This is something not seen in Swat for
months and proves that peace has returned to the valley,’’ he said.
“The extremists, the Taleban, have been isolated. They do not roam the
streets and women are free now to move around,” Khan said.
He strongly criticised the “so-called progressives and liberals” who are
speaking against the deal “without even ever visiting the Swat Valley
and understanding its people”.
“I am considered by the Taleban as their enemy number one. Several of
our ministers, lawmakers and their relatives have been killed and their
properties destroyed. There were unsuccessful suicide attacks on several
others including me. Now these so-called progressive and liberal people
and NGOs are also calling me a ‘bad guy’,” Khan said. He said that already
the Federal Shariah Court has jurisdiction on the entire country, including
Malakand. Then, why are people against the enforcement of the Islamic
justice system in the division? he asked.