Pakistan - Swat Militants Deal - Pros and Cons?
The News, February 17, 2009
By Amir Mir
LAHORE: Islamabad’s decision to sign a peace deal with the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi by enforcing the ‘Sharai Nizam-e-Adl Regulation’ in the Malakand division of the NWFP, primarily to bring back peace to the Swat valley, is a highly risky affair for both Maulana Sufi Mohammad and the government since both sides have put their credibility at stake and will have to prove in the coming days that they are capable of honouring their part of the treaty unlike the past.
It is not for the first time that the TNSM and the NWFP government have inked a peace deal to end fighting in exchange for implementation of Shariah or Islamic law in a large region of the Northwest Frontier Province. It was on April 20, 2008 that the NWFP coalition government signed a six-point accord with the TNSM led by Maulana Sufi Mohammad whose son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah alias Maulana Radio calls the shots in Swat. The then imprisoned TNSM Amir had promised to renounce militancy and suicide attacks, refrain from targeting the Army and the government installations and not to oppose female education and immunisation programme for children. In return, the government withdrew all pending cases against Sufi, commuted his remaining prison term of four years and set him free unconditionally.
Sufi’s release meant that the coalition government in the NWFP, comprising the Awami National Party, which champions Pashtun nationalism and secularism, and the Pakistan People’s Party, a left-of-centre secular party, wanted to use him as a partner in tackling militancy and extremism and bringing peace to Swat. However, in a strange move, almost a week after his release, Sufi disowned his son-in-law, Maulana Fazlullah, saying he would not talk to him again for the sake of peace in Swat as he has shown disobedience to him. While there are those who believe it was a shrewd move on the part of Sufi who had already been freed and who wanted to carry on his old agenda of enforcing Shariah in the Malakand division, the NWFP government circles believed it was hard for Sufi to take back the initiative from his son-in-law who had already established himself as an unchallenged commander of the TNSM in Swat and strengthened his position by joining forces with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, led by the South Waziristan-based fugitive Commander Baitullah Mehsud.
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