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Swat hardline leader asks lawyers, judges not to attend courts

A religious hardliner, engaged in peace talks with the Taliban in Pak’s northwestern Swat valley, has warned lawyers and judges to stay away from courts, saying they have no role under the new system of Islamic law in the restive region.

world Updated: Mar 17, 2009 17:11 IST

A religious hardliner, engaged in peace talks with the Taliban in Pakistan’s northwestern Swat valley, has warned lawyers and judges to stay away from courts, saying they have no role under the new system of Islamic law in the restive region. The warning was issued by Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Muhammadi (TNSM) leader Sufi Muhammad on Monday following which only one judge attended court in the region while 16 others, including a district and sessions judge, had left the area, reports from Swat said. Muhammad said there was no role for lawyers or judges in the Qazi or Islamic courts in Swat. He warned all judges to vacate their offices for the Qazis.

He said that only people filing cases and the accused will be eligible to appear in the new Islamic courts. Following a peace deal signed between the TNSM and the North West Frontier Province government last month, seven Qazis were appointed for courts in Swat last week.

The local administration appointed the Qazis in consultation with Muhammad, who is the father-in-law of the Pakistani Taliban commander in Swat, Maulana Fazlullah.