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» 02/17/2009
PAKISTAN
Justice and Peace: sharia in Swat valley is a defeat for entire country
by Qaiser Felix
Peter Jacob, secretary of the bishops' conference commission, criticizes the agreement between the government and the Taliban. It provides for peace in exchange for the introduction of Islamic law in the Swat valley. The human rights activist does not foresee a Taliban regime like the previous one in Afghanistan, but fears violations of the rights of women and religious minorities.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - "For us it is a setback and a strategy that will not work." The tough talk comes from Peter Jacob, national secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), speaking about the agreement between the local government and the Taliban. It allows the introduction of sharia - Islamic law - in exchange for a ceasefire in the district of Malakan, which includes the Swat valley, in the northwest part of the country on the border with Afghanistan. The agreement was signed yesterday by the government of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Taliban militia group Tahrik-e-Nifaz Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM).

"We think that the more space we will give to fundamentalism, the more they will try to gain from this strategy," Peter Jacob stresses to AsiaNews. He recently returned from a visit to the NWFP, and emphasizes that the agreement "is a tactical step of the provincial government to resolve Islamic militancy in Swat." The human rights activist met with various local political leaders, and explains that "sharia is an emergency medicine" to resolve the situation of tension, but if this does not produce the desired results, "there will be strict action against militants there."

Peter Jacob says, however, that he is sure that the areas where Islamic law is introduced will not see a Taliban regime like the previous one in Afghanistan, because the ruling liberal Awami National Party is confident about the agreement. "But of course as the result of sharia law implementation, the first casualties would be women and religious minorities, because the freedom of women and other faiths would not be tolerated."

According to the latest information, the delegation of the TSNM, headed by the leader Sufi Muhammad, has come to the Swat valley to verify that the peace agreements are being respected. During his stay in the area, mullah Sufi Muhammad will try to convince the mullah Fazlullah - head of the Taliban militias in the Swat - to lay down his weapons in exchange for the introduction of Islamic law.

Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari has not yet signed the document ratifying the peace agreement: he will sign it only after it has been ascertained that the ceasefire is being respected in the Swat, in the district of Malakand, and in the areas that have recently seen fighting between the military and the militias.

The North-West Frontier Province has for some time been the theater of a massive campaign by the Taliban, who want to introduce sharia and Islamic courts. The Swat valley fell into the hands of the Taliban in the autumn of 2007; the army immediately launched a vast offensive to regain control of the territory. An initial agreement, which provided for the introduction of sharia, never went into effect. Last summer, the military launched a second offensive that failed to uproot the Taliban militias from the area.


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See also
02/27/2009 PAKISTAN
"Islamic peace" in the Swat is a defeat for the rule of law
by Qaiser Felix
03/05/2009 PAKISTAN
Muslims attack Christian community in Punjab
04/21/2009 PAKISTAN
Archbishop of Lahore: Sharia in the Swat Valley is contrary to Pakistan's founding principles
by Qaiser Felix
03/07/2009 INDONESIA
East Java, policewomen must wear Islamic veil
by Mathias Hariyadi
01/08/2009 PAKISTAN - INDIA
Islamabad government dismisses national security adviser

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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