Ceric’s remarks on judges, Sharia not worrisome: Gilani (Roundup)

April 21st, 2009 - 12:14 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, April 20 (IANS) The Pakistani government is taking in its stride the remarks of a Taliban-linked radical cleric on the country’s judiciary and Sharia laws following their imposition in Swat and other parts of the restive northeast, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani indicated Monday.
Appearing on the Geo TV “Capital Talk” programme, Gilani said that he was “not at all concerned” with Maulana Sufi Mohammad’s statements Sunday that Pakistan’s existing judicial system was un-Islamic and his vowing to impose Sharia across the country.

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 after Sharia laws were imposed there and in six other districts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), known as the Malakand division.

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, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the government was examining Sufi Mohammad’s remarks and had sought a recording of his speech.

At his rally Sunday at Mingora city in Swat, Sufi Mohammed termed judges, lawyers and pro-democracy clerics of Pakistan as “rebels”.

Meanwhile, the imposition of Sharia laws in Swat Monday rocked the Senate, the upper house of parliament, with the Muttahidda Quami Movement (MQM) and other opposition parties walking out in protest against Sufi Mohammad’s remarks.

Prior to this, a heated exchange of words and sloganeering against the promulgation of the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation created pandemonium in the Senate as Parliamentary Affairs Minister Babar Awan tabled it in the house, Geo TV said.

The move was a mere formality as the regulation has already come into force with the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament April 13 passing it by a majority after an MQM walkout and President Asif Ali Zardari quickly ratifying it the same night.

The opposition members were extremely incensed over the remarks Sunday by Maulana Sufi Mohammad of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM) that Pakistan’s existing judicial system was un-Islamic and vowing to impose Sharia across the country.

In the midst of the din, Senate Chairman Farooq H. Naek reserved his ruling on the regulation.

The situation in the Senate was far different than in the National Assembly, where only the MQM had raised the voice of dissent as other opposition parties quietly acquiesced to the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation.

In fact, Ports and Shipping Minister Babar Khan Ghauri went to the extent of requesting the upper house chairman to pass a ruling over Sufi Mohammad’s statement terming parliament “unlawful” under Shariah.

Ghauri accused the cleric of violating the sanctity of the judiciary and parliament.

Leader of Opposition Waseem Sajjad saw little purpose behind the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation being tabled in the upper house.

“Opposition to enforcement of (the law as per) the holy Quran is infidelity,” the Nation newspaper quoted Sufi Mohammad as saying Sunday.

Pakistan’s judicial system, he said, was un-Islamic and the judgments of Sharia courts could not be challenged in these courts.

“High courts and the Supreme Court were ‘ghair sharaiee’ (un-Islamic) institutions and going for appeal in ‘ghair sharaiee’ institutions was ‘haram’ (prohibited as per Islamic code),” he added.

Sufi Mohammed’s TNSM and the NWFP government Feb 16 inked a controversial peace deal under which Sharia laws would be imposed in the Malakand division in return for the Taliban laying down their arms.

Thousands had gathered to attend Sufi Muhammad’s rally.

He also criticized the country’s rulers, saying “they were appeasing the West by thrusting the Nizam of Kufr (rule of infidelity)”.

He said that he wanted peace and affection among the Muslims and “wish to set up an environment of brotherhood.”

“But the Muslims were divided in different parties, we direly need unity at this time,” he maintained.

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