Taliban Wants Shariah Law in All of Pakistan

As human rights groups and the international community grapple to understand why Pakistan conceded to terrorists, a Taliban spokesman said on Monday that the group is still not satisfied with the government deal and will push to have shariah law throughout the country.

Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan told Pakistan's Dawn News that "[shariah] is not only for Malakand division, it is for all humanity, for all Muslims."

"So we will go more for implementation of Quran, shariah-e-muhammadi, not only in Malakand division [but] other parts of Pakistan also," he stated.

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President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan last week approved a deal that allows local Muslim leaders with close ties to the Taliban to administer justice based on shariah, or Islamic law, in the Malakand area, which includes terrorist hotspot Swat Valley.

Swat Valley is located in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP), which borders Afghanistan and is a well-known haven of terrorist groups such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

But as recent as two years ago, Swat Valley was a popular tourist destination for its lush green valleys and idyllic landscape.

Under the agreement, the Pakistan government allows local Muslim leaders to enforce shariah in the region in exchange for the Taliban's vow to stop its violent campaigns in the area.

Although the agreement was supposed to be a peace deal, many groups within and outside of Pakistan believe civilians will likely suffer severely under the pact.

"The violent, Taliban-associated extremists based in NWFP's Swat Valley consistently demonstrate their disregard for fundamental human rights, and use public beheadings and beatings as a means of enforcing their control," said Felice D. Gaer, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Gaer said the deal will likely "embolden" extremists to carry out more "egregious" human rights violations against women and anyone opposed to their "restrictive and arbitrary religious policies."

Already there are reports from Pakistan that the pro-Taliban clerics have enforced oppressive rules in the area. Women are now barred from appearing in public unless accompanied by male relatives and all men in the area are to wear skull caps and stop shaving their beards. Armed militants openly patrol the area and enforce the new rules.

Taliban terrorists have also destroyed or burned nearly 200 girls' schools in the area.

"I don't accept Taliban shariah because it is based on violence," said Altaf Hussain, the head of the Pakistan political organization Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), United National Movement, during a rally last week.

"The Taliban are punishing innocent people on false accusations and they have turned Swat into hell," he said, according to Dawn News.

Taliban spokesman Khan told The Associated Press Friday that the militants welcome Osama bin Laden to Swat Valley, which the group now controls.

"Osama can come here. Sure, like a brother they can stay anywhere they want," Khan said during the interview with AP, his first with a foreign journalist since Islamic law was imposed. "Yes, we will help them and protect them."

The Pakistan government, however, was alarmed by the statement and said it would never allow bin Laden to take shelter in the country.

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