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Taliban vows to enforce Shariah across Pakistan

April 20, 2009 15:09 IST

A resurgent Taliban in Pakistan's northwestern Swat valley on Monday vowed to enforce Islamic laws across the country while ruling out the possibility of laying down arms, following the implementation of Sharia in the region.

The Sharia or Islamic law regime approved recently by President Asif Ali Zardari will not be confined to Malakand division, which includes Swat, and the Taliban wants the system to be enforced in other parts of Pakistan, Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said on Monday.

"(Sharia) 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," Khan told Dawn News channel in an interview.

He was responding to a question on whether the Taliban believed they had achieved their goal following the federal government's approval for enforcing Sharia in Swat.

Islamic laws were enforced in Swat, located just 160 km from Islamabad, after religious hardliner Sufi Muhammad initiated peace talks with Taliban on behalf of government.

Asked about Sufi Muhammad's assurance that the Taliban in Swat would surrender their weapons once Sharia is enforced in the region, Khan replied, "We don't know about that because we are Pashtuns and any Pashtun has a gun".

He indicated that the Taliban would lay down arms only if the Islamic courts in Swat asked them to do so. "If the Sharia regulation will call (on) us that Taliban you keep your arms, we will keep (them). If the order from Qazi courts is no, we will say no," Khan said.

The Taliban spokesman questioned why no one was asking for the disarming of 'United States' forces' who were allegedly killing Muslims in Pakistan.

"We are Muslims. If somebody is coming to kill my brother, we will stay... in Afghanistan and the Pashtun areas. You are asking me to lay down my arms and nobody (is) asking the Americans. Why?" he asked.

Khan said the implementation of the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation, which envisages the enforcement of Sharia in Swat and Malakand, is the responsibility of Sufi Muhammad, the chief of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Muhammadi.

The Taliban will keep an eye on the progress made in this regard, he indicated.

The militant spokesman also dismissed criticism of the Sharia regime in Swat by Western powers, including the US. "We don't care about the reaction of the government in Pakistan, other foreigners and the international community. We don't care (about) that," he asserted.

Khan also said the Pakistani Taliban wanted all Muslims to work for the creation of a 'caliphate'" comprising all Islamic nations.

Asked if he had a message for Muslims, he replied, "For Muslims it is necessary to come and make a caliphate, one army, one Shariah-e-Muhammadi, one currency and make unity.

"Like the 52 states of America, we should be 56 states of Muslims and we have to make one unity," Khan added.

Taliban fighters led by Maulana Fazlullah, the son-in-law of Sufi Muhammad, now control most parts of Swat, which till two years ago was a popular tourist destination.

The militants openly patrol roads in the area and have barred women from venturing out of their homes unless they are accompanied by male relatives. The militants have directed men to wear skull caps and stop shaving their beards. They have also torched or blown up nearly 200 girls' schools.

Fazlullah regularly issues edicts on his illegal radio station and Sufi Muhammad on Sunday told a gathering of thousands in Swat that democracy is an 'un-Islamic' system.

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