By Shayne R. Burnham
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Human Rights Watch calls upon the Pakistani government to withdraw its peace deal implementing Islamic Sharia law in the Swat Valley, located in the northwestern region of the country. Human Rights Watch cites to violence among women and other basic rights.
President Asif Ali Zardari signed an ordinance on April 13, 2009 which imposed Sharia law and giving the Taliban complete control of the Swat Valley region. This came about by way of the peace deal made on Februrary 15. The parliament unanimously voted in favor of the ordinance. Pakistani military have since moved out of the region.
“The Taliban are taking Swat back to the Dark Ages and the Pakistani government is now complicit in their horrific abuses,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Tossing out the rights of the people in the tribal areas reflects abysmally on both the government and the Pakistani military’s ability to protect Pakistan’s citizens.”
According to Human Rights Watch, the Taliban have implemented their authority by summary executions, such as beheading, public whippings, and intimidation.
“The government defends this ordinance by saying that the officials implementing the law are still appointed by the provincial government and that they will respect the rights of women and others,” said Hasan. “But the reality is that any official in the Swat who does not follow the dictates of the Taliban may be signing his or her own death warrant.”
Critics of the peace deal fear that the country is in danger of being taken over by the Taliban.
“They are now threatening to get out of Swat and take other areas into their custody. So we’ve got to avoid that situation,” said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Sufi Mohammad, leader of the Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-Mohammad, a Taliban affiliate stated, “We hate democracy. We want occupation of Islam in the entire world. Islam does not permit democracy or election.”
“It is mind boggling that any elected, rights-respecting government would seek to partner with and cede control to entities and individuals to brazen in their rejection of human rights and constitutional rule,” said Hasan. “Instead of being feted as allies, Sufi Mohammad and his allies should be held accountable for their crimes.”
For more information, please see:
Daily Times – TTP Says Osama Welcome in Swat: Taliban Reject Peace Accord – 22 April 2009
Human Rights Watch – Paksitan: Swat Deal Grave Threat to Rights – 15 April 2009
Reuters – Opposition Grows to Pakistan’s Taliban Pact – 22 April 2009