MQM to move Supreme Court against cleric Sufi Mohammad


Islamabad : The Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), an ally of Pakistan’s ruling coalition, has threatened to move the Supreme Court against the remarks of Taliban-linked radical cleric Sufi Mohammad on the judiciary and Sharia laws if no one else does so.

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“The MQM has serious reservations about the statement of Maulana Sufi Muhammad, which have already been expressed,” The News Tuesday quoted Ports and Shipping Minister Babar Ghauri as saying.

“Non-acceptance of the superior courts of the country is tantamount to contempt of court,” he added.

Addressing a rally in Swat Sunday, Sufi Mohammad termed Pakistan’s existing judicial system un-Islamic and vowed to impose Sharia across the country.

The cleric also described judges, lawyers and pro-democracy clerics of Pakistan as “rebels”.

Ghauri had raised the issue in the Senate, the upper house of parliament, Monday when the government tabled the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation imposing Sharia laws in Swat and six other districts of the North West Frontier Province that are known as the Malakand division.

The government’s move had led to pandemonium in the house, with the MQM joining the opposition to protest the regulation.

The MQM’s was the lone voice of dissent when the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, debated the regulation April 13, passing it by a majority after the party walked out.

Ghauri also said the MQM’s protest would continue.

He felt Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry should take note of Sufi Mohammad’s statement, which implied that until now nobody in Pakistan was a Muslim.

Lawyers’ organisations that had successfully struggled for the reinstatement of the judges who were sacked after an emergency was imposed in November 2007 should also join the protest, Ghauri maintained.

“We will continue raising this issue at every forum,” the minister said.

“We are not alone in expression of concern over the matter but many other individuals and organisations also have serious reservations in this regard,” he added.

Sufi Mohammad’s Tanzim Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) and the NWFP government had Feb 16 signed a controversial peace deal under which Sharia laws would be imposed in Malakand in return for the Taliban, whose writ runs in much of the area, laying down their arms.

At that time, President Asif Ali Zardari had said he would ratify the deal only if peace returned to the area. He, however, developed cold feet in the face of strident international opposition to the accord and tossed it to parliament.

After the National Assembly cleared the accord April 13, Zardari signed it the same night and it came into force two days later.

On Monday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani indicated that the Pakistani government was taking Sufi Mohammad’s statements in its stride.

Appearing on Geo TV’s “Capital Talk” programme, Gilani said he was “not at all concerned” with the cleric’s statements.

Replying to a question, Gilani said the government knew well how to safeguard the country’s national interests and the US special envoy Richard Holbrooke should not be worried about the situation in Swat.

He also said the situation in Swat was returning to normal and there should be no worries on this score.

Holbrooke has repeatedly voiced Washington’s opposition to imposing Sharia laws in Malakand.

Also on Monday, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to expressed concern over the Swat peace deal, saying the Taliban were trying to export their particularly harsh version of Sharia to other regions.

In an interview with USA Today, Sharif said the militants were now threatening to spread their reach beyond Swat to other regions of the country, adding that this needed to be avoided at all costs.