MINGORA, April 9 The chief of Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat Muhammadi announced on Thursday that he was winding up his peace camp in Swat and said he took the decision because President Asif Ali Zardari had failed to enforce Islamic law in the valley.
Maulana Sufi Mohammad, who had brokered a peace deal between the NWFP government and the Taliban in February, accused the president of creating hurdles in the enforcement of Sharia in Malakand Division and said he would be held responsible for any resurgence of violence.
However, he promised to abide by the peace agreement reached with the provincial government and said “We are ending our peace camp and leaving Swat in protest against non-implementation of pledges made by the president.”
A provincial government official appealed to President Zardari to sign the Nizam-i-Adl Regulation to save the peace deal from collapsing, and the Swat Qaumi Peace Jirga gave 10 days to the president to sign the regulation or face a protest movement.
According to local people, soon after Sufi Mohammad's announcement, armed Taliban returned to the streets and stated patrolling in different areas.
The octogenarian Maulana warned that if the peace agreement collapsed President Zardari would be “directly responsible” for any bloodshed in the valley.
“The NWFP government is sincere. It's President Zardari and the federal government which is not allowing the enforcement of the Islamic law. The peace agreement is my agreement with the NWFP government and it will remain intact,” he said at a hurriedly called press conference. He refused to meet Malakand Commissioner Syed Mohammad Javed who had gone to Mingora to persuade Sufi Mohammad not to end his peace efforts.
The Maulana said he had come to Swat and set up his peace camp after the signing of the agreement on Feb 16.
“Today is April 9 and the government is yet to sign the regulation,” he said.
“There can be no peace without Sharia,” he declared.
Provincial Minister for Information Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the government was trying to implement the terms of the agreement.
“We expect President Zardari to sign the regulation as soon as possible. The situation demands that he sits down, studies the draft and signs it to save peace from collapsing,” he told Dawn.
Mr Hussain said Sufi Muhammad had acknowledged the sincerity of the NWFP government to implement the Nizam-i-Adl Regulation.
“We are doing what we can. Sufi Mohammad knows that we are sincere and we hope that he would continue to help us maintain peace in Swat,” he said. Mr Hussain asked the Taliban to leave Buner and stop their activities in Dir.
“We are all for peace and we do hope that the militants would not escalate violence and disturb peace. We hope that the jirga would be able to persuade the Taliban to leave Buner and stop their activities. We will not allow the Taliban to challenge the writ of the state and endanger people's lives and property,” he said.