The Pakistani government has caved into the demands of the Pakistani Taleban (PT) and will allow Sharia Law as defined by the PT to be introduced and enforced in the Swat Valley region of Pakistan in return for the laying down of their arms by militants who have been fighting Government forces.
While Taleban interpreted Sharia Law has been in low level use in this region for many years, this is the first time the Government has given its approval and backing of its extension under the auspices of the PT and in particular Taleban hardliner Sufi Mohammed, formerly of Jamaat-e-Islami and head of the outlawed Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM – the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad’s Sharia Law) and his son in law Maulana Fazlullah.
This is an enormously dangerous and backward step and is an acceptance that the Pakistani army has lost its battle in this region, and that the overspill from the battles in Afghanistan have had a direct impact on the decision making of the Pakistani Government. Sufi Mohammed it should be noted, arranged for thousands of his fighters to go to Afghanistan to fight coalition forces in 2001.
The Government’s decision is also evidence if any was needed that the current leadership of Pakistan simply does not have the stomach for a fight with extremists on the borders with Afghanistan and neither will they take preventative action to prevent supplies from reaching Taleban fighters in Afghanistan. It also gives the message to other groups in Pakistan, that if you fight hard and long enough, your goals will be realised.
If past actions are anything to go by, the education of all girls in the Swat region will be stopped as there are reports of 400 private schools enrolling 40,000 girls having already been shut down with ten schools for girls that tried to open after a 15 January 2009 deadline blown up by TNSM supporters. The TSNM will interpret Sharia Law how they see it – a severe and hardline version of Wahhabism, enforce and administer it, operate the courts themselves and carry out whatever punishment they deem is necessary. Pakistan has become a more dangerous and even more volatile country.