Pakistan’s controversial Swat peace deal came under a cloud on Thursday when the leader of the Tehreek-Nifaz-Shariat-Muhammadi, Maulvi Sufi Mohommad, announced the scrapping of the accord because the government was not keeping its part of the bargain.
Addressing a press gathering in Swat
Valley, the maulvi said he would be abandoning his peace camp and sit at a protest camp in Batakhela area of Swat.
A TNSM spokesman told newsmen two months have passed but Shariah laws had not been enforced, as part of the agreement. Spokesman Ameer Izzat said English laws were still applied in Swat and “the rule of Allah was still not being enforced”.
“It seems the government lacks the courage and conviction to move ahead with the deal it has signed with us,” Izzat told newsmen. But a minister of the provincial North West Frontier Province government, Iftikhar Husain, denied that the peace deal was no more.
Husain told newsmen that while he would not like to discuss details, “we are sure the peace deal is very much intact from our side”.
However, he warned that if the deal was indeed broken, the fault would lie with the central government as the President has not yet signed the agreement into law.
There is some confusion over the implementation of the peace deal. While the clerics who signed the deal on behalf of the TSNM say they see little progress in implementation, the local government officials say that the laws “cannot be changed overnight”.
Some officials said they saw the move by Mohommad as a pressure tactic to force president Zardari to sign the deal.
However, Zardari is said to have expressed reservations over the deal after the surfacing of the video in which a 17-year-old girl was being publicly flogged on suspicion of immoral behaviour.
Information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said that the president would sign “only if peace returned to the troubled valley”.
Kaira said the deal that was signed between the NWFP government and the TNSM clearly stipulated that the writ of the state would be respected and that peace would return. He questioned the on-ground situation in Swat.
Civil society groups and human rights organisations have condemned the agreement and commented this would give a separate set of rules to an area within Pakistan.
“We cannot live in a country that has different rules from different areas,” commented Zohra Yusuf, a member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.