Bowing to the demands of a radical cleric, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zadari has permitted the enforcement of Sharia laws in parts of the country's restive North West Frontier Province (NWFP), including the Swat Valley that has been taken over by the Taliban.
At a recent meeting with a NWFP government, Zardari agreed to the demand of radical cleric Sufi Muhammad Khan of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz e Shariah-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) to impose Islamic law in the entire Malakand division including Swat, Dawn reported on Monday.
The president's approval was sought because the provincial government cannot amend the existing laws in Malakand without his nod.
Provincial Information Minister Iftikhar Hussain said the Awami National Party (ANP) provincial government would now hold talks with the militants and organise a grand jirga the TNSM leader would also attend.
The Taliban had on Sunday declared a 10-day truce in the area to facilitate the talks.
Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar neither confirmed nor denied the promulgation of an ordinance by the president, saying an official comment would be issued after the grand jirga.
"Analysts said the government had bowed its head before the militants in Swat by agreeing to amend the law of the land and enforcement of 'self-styled' Sharia of a militant organisation like TNSM," Dawn said.
The TNSM's main demand is the replacement of regular courts with Islamic courts. There are reports that over 70 Sharia Courts have already been established in Swat.