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Violence feared in Swat as cleric quits peace process

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, April 10, IRNA - Announcement by senior pro-Taliban cleric that he has quitted the peace process in Pakistan, insurgency hit Swat valley, has raised concerns of resumption of violence in region.

Swat valley had been peaceful for the past two months after a peace deal was signed by Sufi Muhammad, leader of the banned ‘Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Mohammadi’ (TNSM) and the government in North West Frontier Province.

In February, the deal was signed to abolish all un-Islamic laws and set up Qazi courts.

Taliban led by Maulana Fazlullah in Swat declared ceasefire after the agreement, the security forces also stopped offensive against the militants. However the troops remained in the region.

Hundreds of people have been killed in fighting between Taliban and military in past ten months.

Sudden announcement by Sufi Muhammad has disappointed people as they believe that the whole peace process could collapse.

Maulana Sufi Muhammad, has announced to end his peace camp in Swat, accusing the federal government of not taking interest in Shariah implementation in the area.

Addressing a press conference here Sufi Muhammad said that the decision was taken as President Asif Ali Zardari did not sign the Nifaz e Adl Regulation 2009 even after the two months.

Sufi said that President Zardari has not yet given any positive reply to his efforts to restore peace in war-torn picturesque-valley, adding that now the peace restoration is in President’s hands that how quickly he signs the Shariah implementation law for Malakand division.

He said that the provincial government is sincere in complying with peace accord but the federal government does not want any such deal that according to him brings peace in the valley.

Sufi’s announcement has also pushed the government in NWFP.

Before the agreement was signed, Taliban militants had enforced own laws in the region, torched girls' schools and attacked government buildings, courts and security forces.

Several past deals with militants have failed and the government has been criticised by the US for giving time to militants to re-group.

A peace pact signed by the Taliban and the NWFP government in May last year collapsed within months.

The government of Pakistan had been facing criticism of the west on activities of militants going on in Swat.

The Nizam-e-Adl Regulation isn’t much different from a similar law that was enforced in Swat and rest of adjacent areas in 1994 and then, with some amendments, in 1999.

Some changes have certainly been made to appease Maulana Sufi Mohammad, founder of the Tanzim Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) and the foremost campaigner for Shariah in the area, and bring him on board.

Some commentators were even asking as to who would sit in the proposed Qazi courts because they were unaware that such courts already exist in the whole of Malakand Division as a result of the previous Shariah and Nizam-e-Adl ordinances and qualified and trained judges renamed Qazis in the Qazi courts.

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