Sufi Muhammad rules Swat

Sufi Muhammad-led Peace March kicks off in Swat
Updated at: 1035 PST, Wednesday, February 18, 2009
SWAT: Tahrik-e-Nifaz Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM) Peace March led by its chief, Maulana Sufi Muhammad has kicked off here.

Sources said that a large number of people on foot and riding vehicles have thronged for the Peace March and expressed their urge for the much needed peace in Swat.

Meanwhile, Maulana Sufi Muhammad said that he would return from Swat only after having achieved the target for which he has come to Swat. He said that the Peace March aims at ending the environment of fear and harassment.

Maulana said that the struggle for Shariat has taken a big leap forward and hoped that peace in the entire country would be restored with the enforcement of Sharia laws.

Peace March taking a round of Nishat Chowk, Sohrab, Green Chowk, People’s Chowk and Main Bazar would end at Tablighi Markaz.

It may be recalled that Maulana Sufi Muhammad will leave for Matta from Tablighi Markaz, where he would be meeting Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah.


Rewarding militancy?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Quite what the government thinks it is going to achieve with the deal that has been done with the TNSM over the imposition of Sharia law in Malakand division is anybody’s guess. Peace, anywhere, is about the least likely outcome. Assorted lawmakers and representatives of the various groups involved in the process have all been appearing on television giving convoluted explanations as to why they think this is not bowing to the terrorists. Nobody seems to know for certain if the TNSM is a banned organization or not. Nobody is able to explain – thus far – what mechanism will be in place whereby those fighting the government are going to lay down their arms. Are they going to literally lay them down, taking them to some agreed secure place for decommissioning; or are they just going to be put in a cupboard ready for the next round? The latter option would seem to be the more likely of the two. How does the deal affect, say, Hazara division? If this is the making of a new set of laws where was – or is – parliament? The ‘deal’ has to be signed off by the president for it to become effective; and he is said to have refused to sign it until peace is restored – which is all very well but leaves us in much the same position as we were before the deal was done. Ms Sherry Rehman, information minister, has said: “The government will monitor the situation, as security and well-being of Swat is top priority” – which the inhabitants of Swat are doubtless delighted to hear, especially those who are now Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at assorted makeshift camps around Peshawar.

Once all the posturing and bombast is stripped away we are left with nothing of real substance, and the circular dance of death and destruction will continue. The government will not implement the deal until peace is restored, and the militants will not restore peace until the government accedes to their demands. There will be further rounds of talks that take nobody anywhere and everybody will blame everybody else for the ‘failure’ of the process that was never a process in the first place because it had all the substance and structural integrity of a second-rate sandcastle faced by an incoming tide. (The News)

Sufi wants Islamic rule worldwide

* TNSM chief says Islam forbids elections, democracy

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM) chief Sufi Muhammad, who signed a controversial peace deal with the NWFP government on Monday, said he hated democracy and wanted supremacy of Islam over the entire world.

“From the very beginning, I have viewed democracy as a system imposed on us by the infidels. Islam does not allow democracy or elections,” he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur in an interview held a few days before the government accepted his demand of enforcing sharia in the region. “Had the government accepted our demands in 1994, we would have not seen the violence we are seeing today,” he added. Sufi Muhammad’s son-in-law, Mullah Fazlullah, has fostered the violence in the name of Islam.

Sufi Muhammad said he was against shedding the blood of Muslims, however, added the government should have talked to the Taliban instead of taking military action. He pledged to work for complete peace in Swat if the government enforces Islamic laws, a demand which has now been met.

“I believe the Taliban government formed a complete Islamic state, which was an ideal example for other Muslim countries. Had this government remained intact, it could have led to the establishment of similar Islamic governments in many other countries,” he said. (Daily Times)


‘Pakistan taking slippery road in implementing sharia’

* Western officials fear decision will only benefit Al Qaeda and Taliban

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has gambled that an offer to implement Sharia in parts of the northwest will bring peace to the troubled Swat valley, but analysts fear any lull won’t last long and appeasement is likely to embolden the Taliban.

Western officials fear Pakistan is taking a slippery road that would only benefit Al Qaeda and the Taliban, but Pakistani authorities believe the alternative of using overwhelming force on people who are, after all, Pakistanis poses a greater danger.

The central government has said the Sharai Nizam-e-Adl – or the judicial system governed by Sharia – would be implemented in the Malakand division of NWFP, which includes Swat, unless the guns fall silent.

The Taliban announced a 10-day ceasefire on Sunday. The NWFP government has said that while the military would remain deployed in Swat, there would not be any offensives, only reactive action.

“If peace comes through this agreement, then we wholeheartedly accept it. After all, we’re Muslims and want an Islamic system,” said Muhammad Naeem, a teacher in Mingora whose own school was destroyed by the Taliban.

Buying time: Analysts, however, see the pact as little more than a tactic to buy time, as the government seeks a firmer foothold in a region over which it had lost control.

They fear reluctance to permanently deal with reactionary forces would lead to greater problems later on. That has certainly been Swat’s history in the last two decades.

“I think this is going to be another blunder by the government,” said Khadim Hussain of the private Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy.

“There may be a lull for a while, but I think the government will again be trapped in more fighting … there will be more violence.”

Monday’s agreement was the third such pact signed by Pakistani authorities with Maulana Sufi Muhammad, a radical cleric who began a violent campaign for the enforcement Sharia in the region in the 1990s.

Analysts say the government may be trying to drive a wedge between hardline followers of the elderly Sufi Muhammad and even more radical Taliban led by his young son-in-law, Fazlullah. It is a risk.

Even if the laws being brought are a far softer interpretation of sharia than the harsh Taliban version, giving ground to the group would set a ‘bad precedent’, said analysts.

It could convince the most irreconcilable of them that their violent campaign is working. reuters