Pakistan’s National Assembly approves Swat peace deal (Night lead)April 14th, 2009 - 12:26 am ICT by IANS
Islamabad, April 13 (IANS) Pakistan’s National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, Monday approved a controversial peace deal with the Taliban in the country’s restive northwest that has been widely condemned by the West. It will now be sent to President Asif Ali Zardari for ratification.
Once he signs the Nizam-e-Adl regulation, it will see the implementation of Sharia laws in the Malkhand division of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), including the Swat Valley, in return for the Taliban laying down their arms.
Zardari had given his nod for the Feb 16 deal between the NWFP government and Taliban-linked radical cleric Sufi Mohammad but balked at acceding to it in face of growing international pressure.
“We respect the mandate of the provincial government and congratulate the people,” Geo TV quoted Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani as saying after the house cleared the measure, following a walkout by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) members.
Speaking earlier Monday after the pact was tabled in the National Assembly, Gilani said this had been done as the government wanted to build national consensus on the measure.
“We did not want to by-pass the house as the parliament is sovereign,” APP news agency quoted Gilani as saying.
“We want that our hands should be strengthened and that the whole nation is behind us,” he added.
“The president gave his consent (to signing the accord). He gave a go ahead and have an agreement with the local authorities. The agreement was done with our consent,” Gilani maintained.
Observers here saw the statement as Gilani’s bid to downplay reports that the Swat accord had become a hot potato for Zardari, who had tossed this into parliament’s court, instead of ratifying it.
At the same time, it is a fact that parliament was not consulted when Zardari gave his nod for the accord.
According to The News, “Zardari does not want to be held responsible for any negative fallout if this deal backfires in future, as then parliament will be responsible”.
Many Western nations, including the US termed the deal a “retrograde” step as it was seen as bowing before the Taliban and getting in return too little for giving up too much.
The deal appeared to have come unstuck last week with Sufi Muhammad winding up his peace camp and leaving Swat to protest Zardari’s delay in acceding to the accord. He then clarified the pact was intact but was dependent on Zardari signing it.
Gilani, The News noted, “was also said to have been caught off guard when he received the copy of Nizam-e-Adl from the presidency to table it before parliament as he, too, like rest of the politicians was expecting the president to sign the agreement”.
What apparently tipped the balance was Parliamentary Affairs Minister Babar Awan, who advised the president against taking responsibility for the deal.
“Awan was of the view this deal should be sent to parliament for discussion, debate and subsequent approval or rejection,” The News said, adding the minister said that if parliament, representing the people of Pakistan, was ready to ink the deal with Taliban, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government “would not be singled out in case the deal went wrong at any stage”.
Protracted fighting between the Pakistani security forces and the Taliban has forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee Swat. Estimates vary, but human rights monitors believe that up to 800,000 of the valley’s 1.8 million people may have left.
- Zardari approves Sharia laws for Swat: Minister (Night Intro) - Apr 14, 2009
- National consensus needed on Swat peace deal: Gilani (Second Lead) - Apr 13, 2009
- Zardari tosses Swat peace accord to parliament - Apr 13, 2009
- Swat peace deal tabled in Pakistan's National Assembly (Lead) - Apr 13, 2009
- Zardari signs sharia deal following National Assembly's green signal - Apr 14, 2009
- Zardari throws Taliban's sharia law deal at Gilani, Sharif camp - Apr 13, 2009
- After Swat, TNSM vows to implement sharia law in other parts of Pakistan - Apr 14, 2009
- Gilani announces Swat package, to visit area - Apr 17, 2009
- Ceric's remarks on judges, Sharia not worrisome: Gilani (Roundup) - Apr 21, 2009
- Qazi courts start functioning in NWFP's Malakand region - Apr 14, 2009
- Sharia verdicts cannot be challenged in Supreme Court: cleric - Apr 16, 2009
- Swat Sharia laws rock Pakistan's Senate - Apr 20, 2009
- Pak MNA's in catch-22 situation over sharia regulation - Apr 13, 2009
- Sharia for Swat challenged in Supreme Court (Second Lead) - Apr 21, 2009
- Taliban celebrate imposition of Shariat in Pakistan's northwest (Roundup) - Feb 17, 2009
Tags: app news, asif ali zardari, frontier province, geo tv, gilani, hot potato, house of parliament, local authorities, national assembly, national consensus, negative fallout, north west frontier, peace deal, provincial government, radical cleric, ratification, restive northwest, sharia laws, swat valley, walkout