Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi ( TNSM )
Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Sharia
Sufi Muhammad, a cleric from Lal Qila, district Dir, came on the scene in 1989 with the demand to enforce Shariah in Malakand, and formed Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM - Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Sharia]. His movement reached on its peak on 9 May 1990, when the members of the TNSM pitched a camp in Temargrah, in district Dir. In 1992 the PATA regulations were abolished by the courts but no alternative system was put as a replacement.
Sufi Mohammad held the state of Pakistan hostage in 1994 with his 'tor patki' black turban movement, demanding promulgation of Sharia in the region. The demand for Shariah was eventually accepted, and on December 1, 1994, Governor NWFP enforced Nizam-e-Shariat Regulation. Under this framework, courts and names of judges were 'Islamised', a judge was a designated qazi etc. and an adviser was assigned to each qazi to administer justice according to the Sharia. A new parallel judicial system was instituted where litigants had a choice in that they could opt for the 'law of Pakistan' or the Sharia. The Nizam-e-Adl Regulation for the area was a continuation of the semi-Shariah laws that were already in force at the time of their merger in Pakistan. Qazi Courts already existed in the whole of Malakand division as a result of the previous Shariah and Nizam-e-Adl ordinances. The Nizam-e-Adl Regulation was enforced in Swat and the rest of Malakand division and Kohistan in 1994 and then, with some amendments, in 1999. But neither brought change nor redressed the people's grievances due to which TNSM's activities and demands for a change in the judicial system and enforcement of Islamic laws continued.
The police contributed significantly to people's grievances through indifferent and repressive behavior towards the people, bribery, torture, and their collaboration with and assistance to criminals. All of this embittered and alienated most people.
In 2001 Maulana Sufi Mohammad led thousands of his young TNSM followers to fight the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan which had invaded Kabul in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks. Routed by bombing of the allied forces, leaving many dead and dying and others injured and maimed for life, Sufi Mohammad returned to face the question of how teenagers with no prior military training were expected to go into battle against the most powerful military machine in the world. Fearing intense backlash, he was 'arrested' by the government at his own request in Pakistan in November 2001 after returning from Afghanistan. With Sufi Mohammad in jail, TNSM's capabilities declined significantly after 2001. His son-in-law, Maulvi Fazlullah, who emerged as the main militant leader in Swat, was nicknamed "Maulana Radio" for his pirate all-jihad format FM radio station preaching Islamic revolution against the state. The government's meager response in the area to the 2005 earthquake boosted the group's fortunes. Fazlullah's group fills a void by providing law and order.
By 2007 the Pakistani Army was engaged in pitched battles with heavily armed insurgents. Mullah Fazlullah forces overran police stations and paramilitary outposts. Pakistan sent about 2,500 paramilitary troops in October 2007 to re-establish its authority in the region. In December 2007 the Pakistani military launched the operation to retake the settled district of Swat from the charismatic religious leader Maulana Fazlullah. In December 2007 Fazlullah merged with Baitullah Mehsud's Tehrik-e-Taliban [the movement of the Taliban in Pakistan]. More than 200 policemen and soldiers were killed during fighting in Swat in 2007.
The federal government and intelligence agencies, as well as the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam) and Pakistan Peoples Party (Sherpao) - ruling partners at the federal level - supported Fazlullah in order to create problems for the provincial government of Mutahida Majlas-e-Amal (MMA), the leading Islamic party. General Pervaiz Musharraf's unconstitutional act of 3 November 2007 imposing emergency in the country after the insurrections in Swat and Waziristan, strengthened the view of some that the intelligence agencies had played a role in these affairs.
In February 2008, general elections were held in Pakistan and the Awami National Party (ANP)-led coalition government was formed in the province. On April 20, 2008 the NWFP coalition government, comprising the Awami National Party, which champions Pashtun nationalism and secularism, and the Pakistan People's Party, a left-of-center secular party, signed a six-point accord with the TNSM led by Maulana Sufi Mohammad, whose son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah [alias Maulana Radio] called the shots in Swat. It was unclear how much political clout Sufi and his Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi retained in Swat and in the rest of Malakand region. The "failed" peace deals in Swat in the spring of 2008 were in many ways effective, in that they demonstrated the government's good faith and created political space for the state to undertake strong action when the militants reneged on their commitments.
In 2008 skirmishes in Swat, NWFP, indicated that when police stand and fight, they can counter militant attacks. Because the militants are unable to sustain attacks in the face of a military response, they often muster enough forces to overwhelm paramilitary and police units and then generally break contact before the military is able to engage them.
On 15 February 2009 President Asif Ali Zardari gave the approval to the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government to enforce Sharia laws in the Malakand region, including Swat. The president's approval was sought because the provincial government cannot make any amendment to laws in Malakand without his approval. Religious experts, known as qazi, will sit in the court alongside a civil judge, to ensure that the rulings are in compliance with Islam. The legal system in Pakistan allows cases to drag on for years, a major grievance for ordinary people. On February 16, 2009 the North West Frontier Province government and Tahrik-e-Nifaz Shariat Muhammadi finalized the accord. Twenty-nine delegates from the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi, led by Maulana Muhammad Alam, attended the meeting. The provincial government in consultation with all political parties, Sufi Muhammad and ulema with the approval of Federal Government introduced changes in the 1999 Nizam-e-Adl Regulation. These Nizam-e-Adl Regulations 2009 were in line with the constitution of Pakistan as it was the amended form of the regulations proposed for Malakand in 1994 and 1999.
Pro-Taliban cleric Sufi Mohammad, who signed the February agreement with the local government, lashed out at Pakistan President Zardari for not ratifying the deal and withdrew from Swat in protest. The 2009 Nizam-e-Adl bill was tabled in the Parliament and all the major political parties, except Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), voted for the bill and it became a law in no time. On 13 April 2009, President Asif Ali Zardari, the 11th president of Pakistan, signed Nizam-e-Adl Regulation 2009. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said that by supporting the implementation of the agreement signed by the provincial government, the National Assembly was respecting the mandate, desire and the will of the Provincial Government. Sufi Mohammad said that he was looking forward to practical implementation of Nizam-e-Adl regulation and claimed the Taliban will now lay down their arms.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|