Pakistani media paints grim picture of country under Sharia

Islamabad, April 21 (Inditop) Pakistani newspapers Tuesday painted a frightening picture of a Pakistan under Sharia laws, as envisaged by a Taliban-linked radical cleric, saying it would lead to an end of civilised society as one knows it.

What was particularly riling, the editorials in leading English newspapers said, was cleric Sufi Mohammad terming Pakistan’s existing judicial system as un-Islamic and calling for its overthrow and his vow to impose Sharia laws across the country.

Sufi Mohammad’s demand, Dawn said, is of “the gravest concern since, if accepted, it will remove the existing courts from the jurisdiction of the country’s judicial system”.

“Appellate power will go to Darul Qazas headed by qazis with no legal training and appointed by Sufi Mohammad himself. In attempting to decide cases in line with �Islamic injunctions’ that have never been defined in full, the qazis will effectively be not only making their own laws but making them according to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and Sufi Mohammad’s own skewed version of the Sharia,” the editorial maintained.

Not only would this “put paid” to any chance of transparency or justice in Swat and Malakand, “it bodes ill for the rest of the country as well, given the Taliban’s expansionist tendencies”, the editorial, headlined “Fallout of the deal”, contended.

At the same time, there are “no indications” that the Taliban are doing anything to uphold their end of the deal – which was to bring an end to terrorist activities and allow the government to regain administrative control of the area (Swat).

Pointing to Sufi Mohammad’s claim that criminals accused of murder, extortion and terrorism “cannot be brought to book”, the editorial said: “The demand illustrates how Sufi Mohammad has used his position as peace-broker to manoeuvre greater power and relevance towards the extreme right-wing agenda.”

This also underscored the danger inherent in depending for peace on a man “whose credentials in terms of respecting the jurisdiction of the lawful government are extremely suspect”.

Should Sufi Mohammad have his way, Daily Times warned that the Sharia the qazis of the Islamic courts will practice “will not accept such ‘infidel’ accretions as the Family Law Ordinance that still guides an important area of adjudication in Pakistan”.

“The Sufi will be particularly interested in ousting them so that they do not intervene to cancel such punishments meted out by the qazis as the cutting of hands and stoning to death,” the editorial said.

It pointed out that Pakistani Sharia has these punishments on the statute book “but the superior judiciary has always held back their execution under the Islamic concept of istehsan (benign approach in light of circumstances)”.

The editorial was headlined “Sufi Muhammad shows true colours”.

Daily Times also noted that it was not just the judiciary Sufi Mohammad was gunning for.

“He did not leave it at that and told his audience (in Swat on Sunday) that there was no room for democracy in Islam and western democracy was a system of infidels that had divided the clerics and the people of Pakistan into factions,” the editorial said.

The News likened Sufi Mohammad’s remarks on democracy to Chapter VII of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland titled ‘A mad tea-party’ and which opens with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse clustered at the end of a table under a tree.

As Alice approaches they shout together “No room�no room” despite it being plainly obvious that there is.

Noting that what happened at Sufi Mohammad’s Swat rally was far from being a tea party, the editorial headlined “No room” maintained “there were harbingers of instability about it that may yet take us deeper into madness”.

“Sharia law is the be-all and end-all of his policy, he has no publicly-uttered policy statements on education, health, sanitation, poverty, the economy, the price of eggs or how we are going to solve the power crisis.

“Moreover, his goal now, having established a judicial bridgehead and with a fair head of steam up, is to spread the word to the rest of the nation and he will not rest until that goal is accomplished.

“Malakand conquered, the rest of the nation awaits,” it warned.