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Pakistan: Strict Sharia courts open in Swat

March 18, 2009 22:42 IST

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Islamic courts have started functioning in the Taliban [Images] stronghold of Swat in north-western Pakistan as per a peace deal signed by the government with militants in the restive region a month ago.

The courts, which follow a strict religious law, came into existence after Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat Muhammadi chief Sufi Muhammad, with whom the North West Frontier Province government had signed the ceasefire agreement, insisted the opening of Sharia courts, officials said.

"Seven Islamic courts had begun functioning in the valley on Tuesday," Malakand Commissioner Syed Muhammad Javed said.

However, the Qazis (judges) who did not have a proper degree in Islamic law would not be allowed to work in the religious courts and they will be transferred out of the district, Javed added.

A senior lawyer, on condition of anonymity, said judges without proper Islamic training had stopped going to courts with the imposition of Sharia law.

Meanwhile, the Qazi courts' legal standing remained somewhat dubious as President Asif Ali Zardari [Images] has not yet signed the Nizam-e-Adl (Sharia) Regulation, 2009.

"We hope the president will sign the 2009 regulations within a few days. However, we are continuing with the 1999 regulations as they are still in force," officials of the law department told Daily Times on condition of anonymity.

The NWFP government agreed to impose the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation, 2009, in Swat after TNSM chief Sufi Muhammad promised peace in the region if the district were placed under Islamic law.

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