Gilani announces Swat package, to visit area

April 17th, 2009 - 12:25 am ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Islamabad, April 16 (IANS) A day after Sharia laws were formally imposed in Swat in Pakistan’s restive northwest, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced a Rs.400 million development package for the once scenic valley, saying he would visit it soon.
He made the announcement while speaking to a delegation of Awami National Party (ANP) at the PM House here, Geo TV reported.

The ANP leads the ruling coalition in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of which Swat and six other districts of Malakand are a part and where the Sharia laws have been imposed as part of a controversial peace deal with the Taliban to lay down their arms.

Gilani said the federal government would grant the NWFP Rs.17 billion as electricity profit and Rs.4 billion for the provincial police force.

The money would be the first disbursement from the aid received from the Friends of Pakistan lobby that met at Tokyo Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Thursday termed as premature the strident Western criticism of the Swat peace deal.

Responding to a question during a media briefing, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said the majority of Pakistanis had endorsed the agreement that would promote peace in the area.

Taliban-linked radical cleric Sufi Mohammad’s Tanzeem Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) and the NWFP government had Feb 16 inked the peace deal.

At that time, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari had said he would ratify the deal only if peace returned to the area.

However, faced with growing international protests against the accord, Zardari tossed it to parliament, which Monday passed it by a majority after the Muttahida Quami Movement walked out in protest.

The Sharia laws formally came into force Wednesday with NFWP Governor Awais Ahmad Ghani and Chief Minister Haider Hoti signing the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation.

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