One the one hand the crimes of Bush have led me to have some sympathy for the opposition, and thus for Muslims fighting that form of abject "civilized" violence (although I object to violence in doing that too). On the other hand I really am not discontent to see things like the Taliban society, and its barbaric practices, being removed from power (albeit my beef with Bush is really Iraq, not so much Afghanistan).
Now Pakistan is making concessions to some areas who wish to apply the Sharia. On the one hand, I have some sympathy for that position, for the reason above, and think it is smart and somewhat fair to let people choose their own way of life. On the other hand, I have to agree that such a concession is going to feed the motivation of those who use violence to impose their Muslim (or otherwise) societies.
Pakistan Agrees to Enforce Islamic Law in Swat Valley - washingtonpost.com
The Pakistani government, desperate to restore peace to a Taliban-infested valley once known as the "Switzerland of Pakistan," agreed Monday to enforce strict Islamic law in the surrounding district near the Afghan border, conceding to a long-standing demand by local Islamist leaders who in turn pledged to ask the fighters to lay down their arms.The Associated Press: Pakistan inks truce deal with militants in NW area:
In announcing the agreement, Pakistani officials asserted that the adoption of Sharia law would bring swift and fair justice to the Swat Valley, where people have long complained of legal corruption and delays. They said the new system would have "nothing in common" with the draconian rule of the Taliban militia that ran Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, during which thieves' hands were amputated and adulterers were stoned to death.
"There was a vacuum . . . in the legal system. The people demanded this and they deserve it," said Amir Haider Khan Hoti, chief minister of the North-West Frontier Province. The new system will include an appeals process, something the Afghan Taliban justice system did not allow for.[...] But Pakistani critics blasted the deal as a dangerous concession to extremist insurgents who have terrified inhabitants of the valley for months, sending thousands fleeing to safer areas. They have bombed girls' schools, beheaded policemen, whipped criminals in public squares and assassinated activists from the secular Awami National Party that governs the North-West Frontier Province.
The critics expressed fear that this victory might spur the insurgents to push harder for the imposition of Islamic law in other areas, taking advantage of a promise by the Pakistani army to pull back from the surrounding area if peace is restored.
[...] Leaders of the Awami National Party here said they also supported the agreement even though their own views are more secular and they have been targeted by insurgent attacks. They said the government does not have sufficient force to defeat the Taliban and foreign fighters based in the autonomous tribal areas along the Afghan border. So, they said, it needs to negotiate with local militant groups in nearby areas like Swat to isolate the renegade hard-liners in the tribal sanctuaries.
"I have agreed to put my personal hardships behind me for the sake of peace," said Wajid Ali Khan, a provincial official from Swat who said he was put on a Taliban hit list, and whose brother was assassinated because of his Awami affiliation. "We have addressed the core issue, which was Nizam-e-Adl [Sharia law system], so now the fighting and other activities should stop."[...]
Monday's peace agreement applies to the Malakand region, which includes the former tourist destination of the Swat Valley, where extremists have gained sway by beheading people, burning girls schools and attacking security forces since a similar agreement broke down in August.
U.S. officials complained the earlier accord allowed militants to regroup and rearm and urged Pakistan's government to concentrate on military solutions to the insurgency in the rugged frontier region, where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding.
[...] "It is hard to view this as anything other than a negative development," a senior Defense Department official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of relations with Pakistan and because he was not authorized to speak on the record.
[...] Speaking in India, President Barack Obama's special envoy for the region, Richard Holbrooke, did not directly address Pakistan's peace effort in Malakand. But he said the rise of the Taliban in Swat was a reminder that the U.S., Pakistan and India face an "an enemy which poses direct threats to our leadership, our capitals and our people."[...]"This is simply a great surrender, a surrender to a handful of forces who work through rough justice and brute force," said Athar Minallah, a lawyer and civil rights activist. "Who will be accountable for those hundreds of people who have been massacred in Swat? And they go and recognize these forces as a political force. This is pathetic.
[...] Several war-weary residents interviewed in the Swat area welcomed the announcement.
"We just want to see an end to this bloody fighting," said Fazal Wadood, a teacher. "We do not mind what way it comes. It is no problem if it comes through the Islamic system."
[...] Hoti said the laws, which allow for Muslim clerics to advise judges when hearing cases and the setting up of an Islamic appeals court, would ensure a much speedier and fairer justice system than the current system, which dates back to British colonial times.
The rules do not ban female education or contain other strict interpretations of Shariah that have been demanded by many members of the Taliban in Pakistan — restrictions imposed by Afghanistan's Taliban regime that was ousted by the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001.
Note: knowing that the insurgents bombed and burned girls' school, it is a bit hard to believe that no ban on female education will actually be implemented...
The accord does not involve the tribally ruled regions adjacent to the Afghan border, where the United States has been targeting suspected militants with missile strikes fired from drones believed launched from neighboring Afghanistan.[...] The Obama administration has signaled it will continue such attacks, which U.S. officials say have killed several top al-Qaida leaders. Pakistani leaders have voiced strong objections, saying the strikes undercut support for their own war against militants.