April 13, 2009

Pakistan Bows To Demand For Sharia Law In Taliban-Controlled Swat Valley! Oh Geez, I Don't Like This One Bit.

Guardian UK
Pakistan bows to demand for sharia law in Taliban-controlled Swat Valley
written by Declan Walsh in Islamabad
Tuesday 14 April 2009

President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan signed a bill introducing the Islamic law into the Taliban-controlled Swat Valley last night, boosting fears that armed extremists were gaining power in the volatile north-western region.

Zardari ratified the sharia law regulations after receiving cross-party support during a late evening sitting of parliament. During a short debate the prime minister, Yousaf Reza Gilani, said the new law had "the support of the nation".

In Swat, some residents celebrated in the streets, hoping the law would herald a return of peace to the violence-ridden valley, home to a ski resort and a one-time honeymooners' favourite. But that outcome was far from certain.

Human rights activists condemned the law, worrying it would presage the spread of Taliban rule to other parts of Pakistan. "I don't think this law is going to appease the Taliban. It's just going to give them a taste of victory," said Asma Jahangir, the United Nations special rapporteur on relig­ious freedoms.

The politicians were acting under pressure from the Taliban, who had threatened to collapse a fragile peace deal in Swat if the law was not enacted. Earlier, a Taliban spokesman said that any politician who voted against the law would be considered an apostate, a crime that carries the death penalty under traditional Islamic law.

In parliament the only dissenting voice came from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a minority coalition partner which abstained from the vote. "The government is buying peace at gunpoint," one minister, Farooq Sattar, said on his return to the party stronghold of Karachi for a crisis meeting. "This will have far reaching consequences for the idea of a moderate and liberal Pakistan."

Swat's civil law system, inherited from the British empire, will be replaced with an Islamic legal system.

Taliban officials have said they considered Islamic law the first step in a broader movement encompassing economic, political and social change.

Public debate over the deal was re-ignited 10 days ago after a video emerged showing black-turbaned militants flogging a teenage girl from Swat as punishment for an alleged sexual misdemeanour.

But last night, under growing pressure from the Taliban and ANP, and with political cover from parliament, Zardari signed the controversial law.

Please click HERE to continue reading this article.

No comments: