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Only provincial government can appoint Sharia judges: Minister


Islamabad : The provincial government in Pakistan’s troubled northwest alone can appoint judges under the Sharia laws imposed in the region, a minister asserted Monday.

“Only the NWFP (North West Frontier Province) government has the privilege to appoint Qazis under the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation,” APP quoted provincial Law Minister Arshad Abdullah as telling reporters in Peshawar.

Radical cleric Sufi Mohammad, who brokered a contentious peace accord on restoring peace in Swat and six other NWFP districts known as the Malakand division, had no role to play in this, Abdullah maintained.

His remarks came as the cleric Sunday rejected as “unilateral” the NWFP government’s decision to also establish Darul Qaza’s or Islamic appelate courts in Malakand.

Sufi Mohammad contends that he and his Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) alone are competent to appoint the Qazi and Darul Qaza courts.

Undeterred by Sufi Mohammad’s rejection, the NWFP government formally notified the establishment of the Darul Qaza’s.

Under the Feb 16 Swat accord, Sharia laws would be imposed in Malakand in return for the Taliban laying down their arms.

Instead, the Taliban reneged and moved south from their Swat Valley headquarters to occupy the Buner district that is just 100 km from Islamabad.

Pakistani security forces Aug 26 went into action against the militants, initially in Lower Dir to the northwest of Swat and in Buner two days later.

Some 150 Taliban fighters have so far been killed in the military operation in the two districts.

Sufi Mohammad had suspended the peace accord after the security forces’ operation began. Last week, however, he met provincial government officials in a bid to stop the fighting and put the accord back on track.

On Sunday, however, a TNSM spokesman said the Swat accord “practically stands dissolved”.

According to Law Minister Abdullah, the provincial government would fulfill its constitutional responsibilities and establish a Darul-Qaza for Malakand, after which an additional and a deputy advocate general would be appointed to provide speedy and quick justice to litigants.