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Zardari signs Islamic law deal

Zardari signs Islamic law deal

Author: PTI
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: April 14, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/169502/Zardari-signs-Islamic-law-deal.html

Notwithstanding opposition from various countries, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has ratified a regulation for enforcing Islamic Shariah laws in the restive Swat Valley as part of a peace deal with the Taliban militants.

Zardari signed Nizam-e-Adl Regulation 2009 last night hours after it was approved with majority by the Parliament, Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told reporters.

The President left for a short visit to Dubai soon after approving the Regulation, which envisages the implementation of Shariah or Islamic law in the Malakand division of the North West Frontier Province, including the Swat valley.

Western powers, including Britain and the US, as well as India have expressed concerns about the peace deal in Swat. Observers have said it would embolden the militants to demand the enforcement of Shariah in other parts of Pakistan.

The moves comes barely a week after the Taliban protested against the delay by government in imposing the Islamic law, claiming there cannot be peace in Swat without enforcement of the strict Sharia law.

Zardari's signing implemented a deal agreed to in February by the provincial administration to impose islamic law in the Swat valley in exchange for a ceasefire between security forces and the local Taliban. The National Assembly or lower house had yesterday adopted a resolution recommending that President Zardari should accord approval to the Nizam-e-Adal Regulation to implement Shariah or Islamic laws in Swat.

The Assembly passed the resolution on the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation after a heated debate that saw all parties except the Muttahida Qaumi Movement uphold the two-month-old peace deal in Swat.

The move by the National Assembly "asked for what seemed to be a clear concession to Taliban militants of the Swat valley to implement a peace deal between them and the provincial government", the influential Dawn newspaper said in a front-page report.

A parliamentary resolution was not necessary to enforce the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation by the Awami National Party-led coalition government in the NWFP as the constitution empowers the President to give approval to such laws in Provincially Administered Tribal Areas such as Malakand and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

After the NWFP government presented the draft law to Zardari last week, he handed it over to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani with a request that it should be presented in parliament for endorsement.

The law was then brought before the National Assembly yesterday. The Taliban hadthreatened to inflict more violence if the law was not approved by the President. The ANP too had warned it would pull out of the Pakistan People's Party-led coalition at the centre if Zardari did not approve the law.

The government's decision to bring the matter to parliament "seemed to be a clever political move to involve all parties so they could share the blame if things went wrong in the future", the Dawn said in its report.

Prime Minister Gilani told the National Assembly that while the PPP had supported the February 16 peace deal between the NWFP government and the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Muhammadi, on behalf of the Taliban, the federal government came to the National Assembly only to gain a wider "moral force" for the move.

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