Pakistan accepts to restore Islamic law in Swat valley

Pakistan agreed on peace deal with Swat to introduce Islamic law in valley and neighbouring areas of the northwest in a bid.

Pakistan accepts to restore Islamic law in Swat valley
Pakistan agreed on peace deal with Swat to introduce Islamic law in valley and neighbouring areas of the northwest on Monday in a bid.

The agreement was reached at talks between Islamists and officials of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government in Peshawar on Monday.

Taliban fighters in Swat, once a tourist paradise, called a 10-day ceasefire the night before the talks, and on Saturday released a Chinese engineer kidnapped five months earlier as a gesture of goodwill.

Announcing the decision to bring back Islamic law, a spokesman for NWFP said President Asif Ali Zardari had already agreed in principle to this concession to religious conservatives of the region.

"After successful negotiations ... all un-Islamic laws related to the judicial system, those against the Koran and Sunnah, would be subject to cancellation and considered null and void," said NWFP's Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, referring to the holy book of Islam and the saying and teachings of the Prophet Mohammad.

Pro-Taliban fighters have destroyed more than 200 girls schools in a campaign against female education, and tens of thousands of people have fled their homes to escape the violence.

Religious conservatives in Swat have long fought for sharia to replace Pakistan's secular laws, which came into force after the former princely state was absorbed into the Pakistani federation in 1969.

Framework in place

Hussain said the framework for the Islamic laws was in place and from hereon cases would be heard and decided in accordance with Islamic injunctions in Malakand division, which includes Swat, and Kohistan and Hazara districts of NWFP.

But NWFP's Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti said there would be no new courts set up, and the presiding judge would not have to be an Islamic scholar as in times gone by.

Hoti told a news conference that the decision had been taken in consultation with the political and religious leadership of the province, and denied that the government had caved in to fighters.

"This is not under any pressure. There was a movement, militant movement in Swat but not in the entire Malakand Division," Hoti said.

The agreement was reached with Maulana Sufi Mohammad, a radical cleric who led a revolt in Swat in the 1990s to restore sharia, or strict Islamic law.

Mohammad was arrested after leading thousands of followers to fight alongside the Taliban against U.S.-backed foreign forces in late 2001 and was released last year.


Reuters
Last Mod: 16 Şubat 2009, 14:30
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