Pakistan government accepts defeat by Taliban in Swat Valley and allows Sharia Law in region


Swat Valley, Pakistan- In a move roundly criticized around the world, Pakistan announced that it had reached a deal with the Taliban militants to allow them to implement Sharia, or Islamic Law, in the Swat Valley of Pakistan in return for a truce with the Taliban militants in the region. Sharia law refers to the Islamic system of law and the totality of the Islamic way of life. An example of Sharia law is the allowance of getting revenge by an injured plaintiff to exact revenge-physical eye for a physical eye, and a tooth for a tooth. It allows for a thief to be punished by cutting off their hand. It allows for adulterers to be stoned to death by a mob as another example of what is allowed under Sharia law.

The Swat Valley which is a naturally beautiful area of Pakistan has for many years been immensely popular with domestic and foreign tourists. However in recent months, increased offensives by the Taliban and attacks on girls schools, civilians appearing to be too western in attire and mannerisms and anything or anyone that is deemed anti-Islamic has come under indiscriminate attacks by them. The once popular tourist industry in the area has all but evaporated as foreigners and Pakistanis alike are staying away from a region that is now engulfed in violence.

There has also been a rash of beheading by the Taliban of locals who have spoke up against their bullying and their savage tactics. This violence is not only isolated to the people living in the Swat region. Recently, a New York Times article reported that even Pakistani Americans living in the New York area from the Swat region are now being signaled out for ransoms and kidnapping by the Taliban in the region.

According to a former CIA official, the Taliban in the region perhaps number 3000 militants. They have been able to take on a force of roughly 12,000 Pakistani Army soldiers due to their brazen and indiscriminate attacks. Also, the Pakistani Army has not helped matters by firing at the Taliban positions from a great distance and often in the process killing local civilians who now do not know which side to trust for their safety. This decision by the Pakistani government to capitulate to the Taliban and agree to impose Sharia law in the region leads some international observers to claim that this demonstrated the weakness of the Pakistani army in facing and defeating the much smaller Taliban fighters. The Information Minister of Pakistan, Sherry Rehman, denied that the state made any “concessions” to the militants. “It is in no way a sign of the state’s weakness. The public will of the local population of the Swat region in wanting Sharia law is at the center of all efforts and it should be taken into account while debating the merits of this agreement.” The Pakistani government is now hoping that the agreement with the Taliban will prompt them to now disarm in the Swat valley and the violence will stop.

Unfortunately, two previous agreements with the Taliban have failed to materialize any peace in the region and each time the treaty was broken in exchange for fresh violence. Each time, the Taliban have gotten very brazen and they are acting with impunity knowing that they now have the upper hand in the fight with the Pakistani army. US and NATO forces have criticized previous deals with the militants and stated that each time they saw an increase in suicide attacks on international and Afghan forces across the border in Afghanistan. It seems obvious to this reporter that each time the Taliban reach an agreement with the Pakistani forces they are then able to better concentrate their attacks and and violence against the US, NATO and Afghan forces inside Afghanistan. Allowing the Taliban to circumvent the rule of law in Swat and parts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in exchange for a fragile peace is a foolish policy that not only does not work in the long run but actually allows these militants to become emboldened and stronger as a result. Also, this sends a clear message to the Taliban and militants in other parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan that the state is willing to compromise their principles and given enough of a fight, will relent and accept defeat.

We at Pakistanis for Peace are extremely disappointed by the government of Pakistan’s decision to acquiesce to the demands of these same militants who on one hand behead people who disagree with them and on the other hand destroy girls schools because somehow in their narrow and closed minded interpretation of Islam, teaching girls education is deemed by them to be un-Islamic. This decision not only makes these militants stronger but also further has the effect of having people in the region and around Pakistan lose faith in the government’s ability to fight and protect the civilians from what are nothing more than thugs with guns who profess to be “Talibs” or students of Islam. If one was truly a student of Islam and a follower of the religion of peace, then brutal acts of violence against women, foreigners, and Pakistani citizens would not be a routine course of action by them.

The Taliban are enemy number one for the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan and of Islam itself and of Islam and Islam’s image both at home and abroad. How else but to categorize them as savages after they bombed two of the oldest Buddhist statues of Bamyan Afghanistan in 2001? Does Islam not teach respect for all religions and respect for differences of opinion? Where in the Koran does it say it is okay to throw acid on a woman’s face so you can intimidate other women in not attending school? Where does it say it is okay to behead a young man and make an example out of him because he did not repeatedly heed your warning to stop listening to western music? All these actions by the Taliban is a clear indication of the absence of logic in the minds of these people. And for the Pakistani government to fool itself into thinking that any agreements with them will bring peace to the region is absurd. We at Pakistanis for Peace urge the Pakistani government to break this foolish treaty with the Taliban as there should never be any compromises with these people as one can not reason with someone who has no reason. Common sense in not very common among the Taliban and the Pakistani government is doing itself and the people of Swat and of Pakistan a disservice by compromising with these militants.

Reported for by Manzer Munir

    • rhodoraonline
    • February 18th, 2009

    Before this deal was actually announced, there have been suggestions by analysts and diplomats alike that “Taliban can only be defeated politically rather than militarily” but when a deal is actually made, we have only criticism to offer as is our habit. Surely, much rests on the government’s firmness in eliciting actual peace from the militants. But remember, political headway can only be made in a peaceful environment, not in the midst of armed strikes from both sides.

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