Pakistan on Friday defended an accord imposing Shariat laws in Swat and parts of its troubled northeast, saying it was linked to restoring peace in an area that is largely controlled by the Taliban.
"Establishing peace, security and stability are matters of highest priority for Pakistan government and it will use all necessary means to achieve these objectives," Foreign Office spokesperson Abdul Basit said at his weekly media briefing.
According to the spokesperson, the Nizam-i-Adl, as the Shariat law is known, was a "system of justice" that was linked to the restoration of peace and tranquillity.
Basit's comments came as US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke said Washington was "troubled and confused" about the Swat accord as "it is not an encouraging trend".
Terming the situation as serious, Holbrooke cautioned against the area being ceded to the "bad guys".
Meanwhile, reports here Friday said the Swat deal would figure high on the agenda during Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi's visit to Washington.
The federal government approved the signing of pact between the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) of radical cleric Sufi Mohammad to impose Shariat laws in seven districts of the province, including the picturesque Swat valley, a once popular tourist destination that the Taliban have taken over.
The cleric is currently in Swat for peace talks with his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah who heads the Taliban in the area.