The Peshawar-related headlines in The News today illustrate the dangers of a group entering into negotiations unprepared and being forced into a weak position very quickly. While the ANP, leader of the coalition governing the NWFP, complains how it was “kept in the dark by the Federal Government and intelligence agencies regarding peace talks and deals signed with militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas”1, Baitullah Mehsud’s spokesman Maulvi Omar rationalizes the unbelievable fact that the Tehrik-e-Taliban is simultaneously engaging in peace talks with the government and bombing army-run bakeries by saying “We are still sincere in our peace initiative with the government and want to work with it for a durable peace in the region. But, we had made it clear very earlier that if the government took any action against our people, we will be justified in showing reaction in their respective areas”2
Dawn has a great editorial by Khadim Hussain3 about the impact, on the judicial system, of the government’s possible promulgation of the Sharia Nizam-i-Adl Ordinance 2008 in the Malakand division of the NWFP:
District and sessions judges, according to the draft, would be called ‘zilla qazis’, additional sessions judges ‘izafi zilla qazis’ and senior civil judges would be ‘aala qazis’. The advice of the ‘muaavin qazi’ would be binding on the courts. Appeal against a judgment would not be made in the Peshawar High Court or the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Instead, an appellate Sharia court would be established at the divisional level. The said ordinance was first promulgated in 1995 after the stand-off between the security forces and the defunct Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Mohammadi (TNSM), revised again in 1999 and now — for the third time — being promulgated in 2008.
He notes the biggest irony of all — that this is happening after the people of Malakand voted for secular and liberal parties over the ruling religious coalition, the MMA.
By acquiescing in to the demands of the militants for the promulgation of the Sharia Nizam-i-Adl Ordinance 2008 in the Swat valley and other parts of Malakand division, the government has indicated that it might give larger space to the extremist minority there than what it deserves.
1 (May 20, 2008). ANP feels left out. The News.
2 Yusufzai, Mushtaq. (May 20, 2008). Tehrik-e-Taliban claims Mardan suicide bombing. The News.
3 Hussain, Khadim. (May 20, 2008). The Fate of Swat. The Dawn.