HARDtalk: “If Fazlullah does not appear in court when summoned, he will be acting against shariat” —Sufi Muhammad, Leader of the TNSM * Keeping weapons is allowed in Islam
* The military violated the ceasefire
* No objection to a cantonment in Swat
* Democracy is not allowed in Islam
The influential pro-Taliban cleric of Swat, Sufi Muhammad has said that the sharia law does not allow debate on the past, and therefore he will not term what his son-in-law Mullah Fazlullah did against the state of Pakistan during the last year and a half as haram or halal. In an exclusive interview with Daily Times’ Peshawar Bureau Chief Iqbal Khattak in Mingora city, the 74-year-old cleric said keeping weapons is Islamic, and that he did not demand that the Taliban surrender their weapons after a peace deal with the NWFP government. Excerpts follow:
Daily Times: You said in a 2005 interview with us that what Al Qaeda and the Taliban are doing in Pakistan is haram. Are Maulana Fazlullah’s activities over the last sixteen months also haram?
Sufi Muhammad: Yes, I said that about Al Qaeda, but not about the Taliban. Let me say…that debate on past happenings is disallowed in Islam. A hadith sharif says, what has happened in the past should not be discussed.
But how can we proceed without debating the past?
The hadith sharif says a Muslim should not discuss past happenings because he may not remember all the [details] and, therefore, he may…sin by not speaking the truth.
A majority of Swat residents do not think the peace deal recently signed between the TNSM and the NWFP government will last long.
God Almighty does everything; he builds and destroys countries.
Residents also doubt whether peace is possible in the presence of armed Taliban.
Everyone keeps weapons. People in Peshawar have weapons with them.
You support keeping weapons?
Yes, you can keep weapons with you.
Did you ask Fazlullah to surrender weapons after the sharia law deal?
Keeping weapons is halal in Islam.
President Zardari said recently that force would be used if the Taliban do not surrender weapons in Swat.
His statement is childish…immature.
With sharia law in Swat, there will be a complete ban on music and girls’ education, and people will be forced to grow beards?
There are five subjects — judiciary, politics, economics, education and the executive. The judicial subject will be with us, the rest is beyond our control.
The Taliban are kidnapping government officials and killing soldiers, yet you still hold the army responsible for ceasefire violations.
Kidnapping cases are taking place all over the world. The military violated the ceasefire.
The military says some of its soldiers were shot dead while bringing water.
No. This is not the case. The soldiers were not killed near any stream.
Are soldiers moving freely in Swat after the peace deal?
No. The military cannot move freely unless peace is restored.
After peace is restored, will the army leave Swat?
This is Pakistan’s army and Swat is within Pakistan’s borders. I will have no objection if a military cantonment is established here.
Locals say innocent people have been killed. Will the aggrieved families be able to get justice?
I have told you already: we will not discuss what has happened in the past. Sharia law does not allow this.
If a court summons a key Taliban commander, will he appear before the court?
If Caliph Umar (RA) can appear before a court, then why can’t others?
So Fazlullah will also appear in court if summoned?
If he does not…he will be acting against the sharia law.
What you did in Malakand in the 1990s and then in Afghanistan in 2001 you called ‘jihad’. Are Fazlullah’s activities over the last 16 months in Swat also jihad?
I do not want to speak on this.
What are Fazlullah’s plans after the peace deal?
He will support imposition of sharia law.
You have termed democracy ‘infidelity’. But Maulana Sami-ul Haq, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Qazi Hussain Ahmad are taking part in the democratic process.
Democracy is not permissible in sharia law. I will not name [these leaders] but they are taking part in infidelity. I will not offer prayers if one of [these leaders] is leading those prayers.
Do you intend to export sharia law to other parts of Pakistan?
If people help me, I will. Otherwise, no.
Daily Times, 19 March 2009.