Capitulation in Swat: Sharia?

Capitulation in Swat
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Sayed G B Shah Bokhari

The words in the preamble to the Adl Regulation that “All laws against Sharia will be abolished and Sharia will be enforced under this justice” show that either the author is not aware of what is in the country’s Constitution. It says that any law repugnant to the Quran and Sunnah will be struck down. If the 1973 Constitution could not purge Swat of anti-Sharia laws, is there a magic wand in the hands of the secular ANP government to enable it to Islamise society?

TNSM leader Maulana Sufi Mohammad, chief architect of the new regulations, had great admiration for the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 1996-2001. Now that the NWFP government has buckled under pressure there is every likelihood that under the appointees of the Maulana and his own monitoring of the judiciary, Swat will see a comeback of what Afghanistan saw under Taliban rule. When Nizam-e-Adl (Sharia) was introduced in Swat in 1994, in addition to the law of Pakistan, the litigants could choose between Pakistani law and the Sharia.

Society was thus divided between women litigants seeking inheritance rights from their male family members invoking Sharia and their male members opting for Pakistani law and local traditions that helped them to impede the process of transfer of inheritance property to female members.

As justification for the introduction of Sharia we are told that before 1969 Swat state had a good judicial system because of Sharia law. However, the system was not Islamic, but based on traditional code and accepting the Wali of Swat as the ultimate authority.

In any case, are the Muslim residents of Swat a special class compared to the rest of the Muslim population of the NWFP and Pakistan? If the Sufi Mohammad approved Sharia is considered the only recipe for peace and prosperity in Swat why deprive the rest of the country from the benefits of the system?

Sufi Mohammad and his disciples are dead against the lawyers’ community and feel that their presence in the Sharia system is redundant. Litigants can be saved from paying heavy fees to the lawyers if Swat-like Sharia was to be introduced in the whole of Pakistan.

In a democratic setup the will of the people rules. In Swat, was the introduction of the separate judicial system in consonance with the will of the people or was it appeasement of a person, Sufi Mohammad, for letting the provincial government enter Swat? The will of the people, in a recognised way, is expressed through the assembly members elected by all. Unfortunately, the elected assembly members from Swat had been forced to abandon their constituencies by the very people who are negotiating with the provincial government on what type of system was best for the people.

What is the political standing of Sufi Mohammad except that he can influence militants to stop bothering the government? He has emerged as the major articulator for the enforcement of Sharia regardless of the opinion of political parties and religious leaders of other school of thought. For all intents and purposes in Swat non-state actors have been shown to represent the will of the people. If the long awaited Feb 18 general elections were any scale to measure the will of the people the candidates of the Awami National Party swept the elections in their favour in Swat. The people of Swat outvoted members of religious parties to return the ANP to power. By imposing a system on the demand of the very persons whose mandate was rejected by the masses, is the ANP government not violating the sanctity of the Feb 18 results? (The News)

The writer is a retired colonel. Email:

A related article by Professor Khadim Hussain at BBC Urdu dot com: