By Shayne R. Burnham
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Pakistan has agreed to a peace deal with Taliban militants in the Swat Valley. The deal will lead to the enforcement of Islamic Sharia law in the Pakistan’s northwest region. In return the Taliban will lay down their arms permanently.
Historically, Swat has been a religious holiday destination. Since 2007, it has been under Taliban control. As a result, thousands of people have fled and schools have been burned. Although female education, music and dancing have already been prohibited and executions have taken place, militants in the Swat Valley have been pushing for a stricter Islamic law.
“Our whole struggle is for the enforcement of Shariah (Islamic) law,” Swat Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said. “If this really brings us the implementation of Sharia, we will fully cooperate with it.”
Chief Minister of North West Frontier Province Ameer Hussain Hoti, said, “[The deal] was reached after realization that it was the demand of the people.
The agreement will force the provincial government to implement Sharia law in the Malakand division, which includes the Swat Valley. Civilians have been caught in between the military and Taliban fighting. At least 1,000 have died and thousands have been displaced.
Some critics believe that the peace deal is the beginning of Taliban rule in Pakistan, saying the deal will encourage the Taliban in other areas of the country to take more severe action. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardaru said the Taliban had “a presence in huge amounts of land” in Pakistan and were trying to take over the county.
On the other hand, the government views it in strategy. The peace deal will stop the fighting in the Swat Valley area and thereby giving the government some breathing room.
Many people in the area prefer that the army retreat since they have failed to pacify Taliban insurgents and protect civilians.
For more information, please see:
Associated Press – Islamic Law to be Imposed in Parts of NW Pakistan – 16 February 2009
BBC – Pakistan Agrees Sharia Law Deal – 16 February 2009
Reuters – Pakistan: Now or Never? – 16 February 2009