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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

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CHINA-VATICAN
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by Bernardo CervelleraFor the Global Times (the People's Daily) China does not like the "Vietnamese model" of agreed episcopal ordinations. The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s embarrassment in front of the Holy See’s countless efforts. China wants the Vatican to accept all excommunicated bishops and to keep silent on those who are underground and imprisoned. The case of Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang. Without religious freedom, diplomatic relations are pointless. The work of mission and the unity of Catholics in China. A task for Xi Jinping: implement the anti-corruption campaign in the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Patriotic Association, which have grown rich over the decades on the backs of Christians.
VATICAN
Pope: Christians are persecuted and the world tries to hide itDuring the Angelus, Francis prayed for the victims of today's church massacres in Pakistan. Before the Marian prayer, he said that God "loves us, really love us, and loves us very much! This is simplest expression that sums up the whole Gospel, faith, and theology. God loves us freely and boundlessly." The pontiff also spoke about typhoon victims in Vanuatu. "I pray for the dead, the wounded and the homeless. I thank all those who reacted immediately to bring relief and aid." The pope also made a plea on behalf of persecuted Christians. "May the persecution against Christians, which the world is trying to hide, come to an end, and may there be peace."

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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