Taliban nears Islamabad; Gilani says Swat deal can be re-looked
Faced with an increasingly belligerent Taliban, who have advanced to within 100 km of this federal capital, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Wednesday a controversial peace deal with the militants could be re-looked if peace did not return to Swat.world Updated: Apr 22, 2009 21:55 IST
Faced with an increasingly belligerent Taliban, who have advanced to within 100 km of this federal capital, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Wednesday a controversial peace deal with the militants could be re-looked if peace did not return to Swat.
"Parliament had unanimously approved it (the peace accord). The President gave his assent to it. It is meant to restore peace. If peace does not return, we can think otherwise," Gilani told reporters here.
At the same time, he expressed hope that peace would return to Swat.
His remarks came a day after the Taliban took firm control of Buner district in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP, just 100 km from this federal capital. The militants writ already runs in much of Swat and six other districts of what is collectively termed the Malakand division.
Asked to comment on remarks on the judiciary by Taliban-linked radical cleric Sufi Mohammad, who had inked the controversial Feb 16 peace accord with the NWFP government, Gilani termed them the views of an "individual".
"Sufi Muhammad's views are of an individual," APP quoted Gilani as saying.
Addressing a huge rally in Swat Sunday, the cleric had termed high courts and the Supreme Court "un-Islamic" and said that appeals against the verdicts of the qazi courts that would be established under the Sharia laws could only be heard by Islamic appelate courts.
He had also said Sharia laws would be imposed across Pakistan.
Gilani also called for national unity to fight terrorism.
"There is a problem of terrorism. This menace can only be contained by all the political forces of the country who should join hands to confront it," the prime minister maintained.
Under the peace deal Sufi Mohammad and the NWFP government had signed, Sharia laws would be imposed in the Malakand division, in return for the Taliban laying down their arms.
At that time, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari had said he would ratify the accord only after peace returned to the area. He, however, backtracked in the face of strident international protests against the deal and tossed it to the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament.
The National Assembly passed the Sharia Nizam-e Adil Regulation by a majority April 13 after the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), a junior partner of the ruling coalition, walked out in protest. Zardari ratified it the same night and the Sharia laws came into force two days later.
Significantly, when the Regulation was presented before the National Assembly, it was preceded by a warning from the Taliban that any legislator who did not endorse it would be deemed a "non-Muslim" - meaning that he or she would be considered an apostate and deemed worthy of being killed.
The Nizam-e Adl Regulation was Monday challenged in the Supreme Court on the ground that it was out of sync with Pakistan's laws.