Inside Story - Sharia in Pakistan's Swat


It's quite clear that this isn't a done deal. There is no sharia in the Swat Valley.

Firstly, Zardari has said he will only allow sharia in Swat when there is complete peace and secondly sharia authority will be exercised by mainstream judges trained in Anglo-Saxon law. Given that Pakitsan's judiciary at the moment is wholly subservient to the will of the government, it will ultimately be up to the government to decide how to interpret sharia law.

As is pointed out in the above programme, Swat is a peculiar case. It's a constitutional anomaly. Federal control by the government in Islamabad was imposed only in the late 60s/early 70s after the princely status of the area was abolished. But this was deemed unconstitutional and a vacuum has existed ever since.

But with this deal, if it goes through, Pakistani judges under the control of the federal government will exercise authority in the Swat Valley.

If anything this is a clever ruse by the Pakistani government to reassert/assert its authority over Swat.

There is the question over whether such a deal will be allowed to work by either side (or third parties).

If the people get more peace than now (and schools etc are allowed to re open), it would be a good thing.

"For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens 'as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone'" - David Cameron, UK Prime Minister. 13 May 2015.

As things are, the Taleban in FATA will refer to Swat's sharia law as "sharia-lite". But they'll continue to fight their fight in FATA and leave Swat to its own devices. The Americans have been able to see the nuances and may also see this deal as a ruse by the Pk gov. So Swat is one less headache for them.

The Pk gov and Sufi Mohammed, I think will be happy to see the deal work. The gov can assert its control and Sufi Mohammed can claim that he got what he had been calling for for the past 15 years. Swat pretty much sorted.

But in the long run it may not work out, ultimately because America's solution to the Afghan-Pakistan/Taliban-al Qaeda problem will be an all out military one. In that situation, pondering Swat's constitutional status and judicial system will be light relief and any fighting on the scale seen so far will be "progress".