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Pak govt signs Malakand sharia deal

February 17, 2009

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The delegation members of Sufi Mohammad, attend a meeting with Pakistani government officials, political and religious leaders in Peshawar on February 16, 2009. — AFP
The delegation members of Sufi Mohammad, attend a meeting with Pakistani government officials, political and religious leaders in Peshawar on February 16, 2009. — AFP

PESHAWAR NWFP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti announced a sharia-based judicial system for Malakand and Kohistan on Monday, but denied that the system was similar to the one introduced by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The chief minister linked the implementation of the system with restoration of peace and resumption of proper functioning of state institutions in Swat.

The provincial government declared that all laws against Sharia would be considered redundant in the region.

'Following successful negotiations between Maulana Sufi Mohammad and a team of the provincial government it has been decided that from now onward all the laws related to judicial system in Malakand Division including Kohistan in conflict with sharia shall be considered redundant and defunct,' said a joint declaration signed by the government and Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah-e-Mohammadi (TNSM).

The declaration was made public in a media briefing held by the chief minister after a jirga attended by lawmakers from Malakand, leaders of major parties and a delegation of TNSM headed by its deputy chief of Maulana Mohammad Alam.

Mr Hoti said all stakeholders including the president, prime minister and lawmakers from the Malakand region had accepted the decisions.

He said after signing the declaration TNSM's chief Maulana Sufi Mohammad and his companions would take a jirga to the restive Swat Valley and, hopefully, persuade the militants to lay down arms.

'The law enforcing agencies in Swat would not play proactive role rather they will remain in reactive mode. They will stay there but retaliate if someone attacks them,' said the chief minister.

On behalf of the government, the declaration was signed by Provincial Ministers Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Haji Hidayatullah, Syed Zahir Shah and Humayun Khan, and Provincial home and law secretaries, Fayaaz Toru and Farooq Sarwar, respectively. The TNSM was represented by its naib amir, Maulana Mohammad Alam, its spokesman Amir Izzat Khan and its shura member Badshah Sarwar Khan.

Mr Hoti informed that recommendations to the President to fulfill legal requirements and some more proposals would be sent after which the proposed Nizam-e-Adl Regulation 2009 would be implemented.

The Declaration states 'The four sources of the judicial system, whose explanation had already been given in the Islamic jurisprudence, are Holy Quran, sunnah, Ijma and Qiyas and against it no decision would be acceptable. For appeals, a Darul Qaza meaning Sharia Court bench would be established there whose decision would be final.'

It added that in consultation with Maulana Sufi Mohammad on all the aspects of the Sharia judicial system, it would be implemented in Malakand division and Kohistan district of Hazara following restoration of peace.

The government requested Maulana Sufi Mohammad, who was released from prison after an agreement in April last year, to end his peaceful protest and help restore peace in the region.

'A task force will oversee the implementation of these decisions,' Mr Hoti said, adding that the federal interior secretary and provincial chief secretaries would be the focal persons with the provincial presidents of Awami National Party and Pakistan Peoples Party and the provincial home and law secretaries as its members. One nominee from each of the two parties will be included in the Task Force.

The chief minister rejected a perception that any parallel judicial system or unconstitutional set up was being introduced, and said that it was clearly mentioned in the Constitution that all laws should be in accordance with Sharia.

He said the president and prime minister had approved compensation package for the violence- hit areas and the funds had been transferred to the provincial government. According to the package, heirs of every killed person will get Rs 300,000 and each injured person will get Rs 100,000.

Mr Hoti said restoration of peace and the writ of the government were vital for implementation of these decisions.

'There is now no motive left for the people who had taken up arms for the enforcement of Islamic judicial system. I request them to lay down arms and help the government in restoring a durable peace and reconstructing the affected areas,' he said.

When asked if the decision had been taken under pressure, he said that it was in accordance with the aspiration of the people of those areas.

'Earlier, a regulation was introduced in 1994 and subsequently a Nizam-e-Adl Regulation was promulgated in 1999, but legal vacuum still persisted there which created unrest among the people,' Mr Hoti said.

He requested the international community to come forward for the reconstruction of the schools and other infrastructure destroyed during the conflict.