Pakistan ’sharia’ deal a retrograde step: expert

February 16th, 2009 - 10:14 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Feb 16 (IANS) Pakistan’s decision to allow ’sharia’ law in parts of the North West Frontier Province is a “retrograde step” that marks a capitulation to Islamic militants, a London-based strategic expert said Monday.

“There are many, myself included, who fear that this is a retrograde step,” said Farzana Sheikh of the foreign policy thinktank Chatham House.

“Sharia” is an Islamic code of law or conduct based on interpretation of the Quran.

She said that instead of unifying Pakistan’s law and achieving integration, the move has “fractured the country by allowing the administration of parallel systems of governance”.

“But what is even more upsetting is that these demands have come about and are being agreed not as the result of some kind of democratic electoral process but really through the barrel of the gun,” she told BBC Radio.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s deputy information minister has denied reports that jailed militants were released as part of the deal.

“I have spoken to a senior official of the NWFP government and they are denying that any militants or any criminals have been released. That is the information that I have,” Tariq Azim Khan told the BBC.

He defended the ’sharia’ deal, saying it would bring peace to the area.

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