Sunday 19 April 2009

State within a state - is Swat next Somaliland

In February 2009 finding itself unable to govern Swat the government of Pakistan caved in to demands of local militants and agreed to imposition of their form of Sharia law for the region. I wrote at that time suggesting that the writ of the state has been handed over to local goons masquerading as champions of Islam. Government had chosen to sign a deal with Sufi Muhammad, father-in-law of the regional Taleban leader Maulana Fazlullah in the hope that Sufi will be able to reign in the militants.

When the Chief Justice of Pakistan took suo moto notice of flogging of a young woman in Swat, an incidence that shook the country and resulted in a public outcry, and asked the perpetrators and the victim to produced before the courts it was evident from the response of the government that the civil bureaucracy and police were incapable of acting upon the directives. It was also evident that the increasingly powerful Taleban hegemony in Swat will soon pose a serious challenge to the established and constitutional arms of law and justice.

In his statement over the last few days Maulana Sufi Mohammed has thrown down the gauntlet by publicly dubbing the existing judicial system of the country as unconstitutional and against the teachings of Sharia. According to him since the established judicial system of the country has not been in line with Sharia, the judgments of Sharia courts (being established in Swat under the deal between Sufi Muhammad and the government) could not be challenged in the higher constitutional courts. Sufi has termed all judges, lawyers and pro-democracy Ulema (religious leaders) as ‘rebels’. According to him those opposed to enforcement of sharia and the Holy Quran are infidels - a tactic that was used successfully to intimidate the parliament into ratifying the peace deal between the government and the Sufi, by branding any member of parliament opposed to the peace deal as being in opposition to Sharia and thus an infidel.

Is Swat the next Somaliland!

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