Pak to Form Islamic Courts to End Conflict with Taliban

Under a pact to put an end to the conflict going on between the army and the Taliban militants in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), Pakistan has announced the formation of an Islamic appellate court in the region. However, the cleric meddling between the two sides has the panel.

According to a pact reached between the two sides in February, the government had consented to impose Islamic law in the Swat Valley and abutting areas, including Malakand division in exchange for peace but after US and West criticized the deal and expressed fear, an army offensive was launched.

Speaking on the formation of Islamic appellate court – called the Darul Qaza, province’s information minister, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, said that it meant that the government was close to fulfilling its obligations. He said that two judges have been appointed to the panel, and more will be named later.

It may be mentioned that already a handful of judges trained in Islamic law, called qazis, have been trying relatively routine disputes in Swat. Hussain said that more such judges would be named throughout the rest of Malakand Division.

At same time, authorities in Pakistani insist that the deal has, at the very least, symbolic value. By executing the agreement on their part, they can gain more support from the public to take action against the Taliban in case the militants infringe the pact, they add.

According to them, there has always been a demand of a speedier justice system in Swat, where regular courts are corrupt and inefficient. And it is this grievance which Taliban militants exploited in their campaign there, one marked by beheadings and burnings of girls schools over the past two years.

“The new appellate court takes away justification for militants to keep fighting,” Hussain said. “Now anyone carrying arms would be treated as a rebel and would be prosecuted in the qazi courts.”

Nevertheless, the announcement failed to satisfy the hard-line cleric who has mediated the deal, informed his spokesman. Amir Izzat Khan said the cleric, Sufi Muhammad, was supposed to be consulted on the makeup of the appeals court but was not.

“We reject this Darul Qaza and further consultation is on to discuss the future line of action,” Khan said.

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