NATO concerned over Pakistan’s Shariat dealFebruary 18th, 2009 - 12:48 am ICT by IANS
Brussels, Feb 17 (IANS) The NATO Tuesday expressed concern over Pakistan’s decision to allow a Taliban-linked Islamist group to implement the Shariat laws in parts of the country’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP), EuAsiaNews reported.
Monday’s deal between the Pakistani government and radical cleric Sufi Muhammad Khan of Tehrik-e-Nifaz e Shariah-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) group, a pro-Taliban group, will see an end to the military offensive and allow the group to implement the Shariat laws in the region, including the Swat valley.
“As Hobrooke (Richard Hobrooke, US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan) also said, we should all be concerned by a situation in which extremists would have safe haven,” NATO spokesman James Appathurai told journalists here.
“The Pakistani government is clearly engaged in a very, very difficult challenge. They are putting enormous resources into fighting extremism in their own country. Without doubting the good faith of the Pakistani government, it is clear that the region is suffering very badly from extremism and we do not want to see it get worse,” he added.
Appathurai stressed that the Pakistani government and NATO want to deepen their relations.
Asked if the Swat deal will make the fight against extremism in the region more difficult, he said: “We will have to wait and see. It is certainly a reason for concern.”
Afghanistan will be a key issue for discussions during an informal meeting of NATO defence ministers Thursday and Friday in Krakow in Poland.