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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2731

TNSM flexing muscles: Sufi Muhammad warns Swat judges to stay away from courts

By Farzana Shah-Asian Tribune correspondent in Pakistan

16 judges left Swat, fear for life

Peshawar, 18 March, ( Atleast sixteen Sufi MuhammadSufi Muhammadjudges including District Sessions Judge, four additional sessions judges and eleven civil judges have quit Swat Valley on Tuesday after warning hurled by the chief of Tehreek-i-Nifaz-e-Shariat Muhammad (TNSM), Sufi Muhammad at them.

According to official sources the judges left the valley as a result of Sufi Muhammad’s warning asking the lawyers to stay away from courts claiming that there is no role for lawyers in the Qazi courts (sharia courts).

Earlier Chief of religious organisation, TNSM, Sufi Muhammad has warned judges of the Swat lower judiciary to cease their hearings, as sharia courts would start operation in the district from Tuesday (today).

Addressing a press conference he warned that if the judicial officers continued to attend their offices, it would be considered a violation of the peace accord signed between him and the NWFP Government.

Sufi said all decisions rendered by lower courts in Swat after February 16 are void, and only the qazi courts are qualified to decide the cases in the district under sharia law after the agreement reached between government and the militants on February 16th.

Sufi Muhammad also said that qazi courts (sharia courts) would now be established in Lower and Upper Dir districts, Buner, Malakand Agency, Shangla, Kohistan and Chitral districts of North West Frontier Province.

He warned that if the appointed qazis (judges) did not deliver their verdicts in light of sharia laws they would be replaced by other qazis, adding that qazi courts’ decisions would be challenged in Darul Qaza (higher court), for which two qazis had already been appointed and a third one would be appointed soon.View of Sufi’s supporters gathering for peace deal on Feb 16th, 2009View of Sufi’s supporters gathering for peace deal on Feb 16th, 2009

He asked the public to monitor the working of qazi courts and inform him of any weaknesses and delays.

Peshawar High Court (PHC) has expressed concern over Sufi’s threats to judges in Swat and directed the NWFP Government to ensure safety of Swat judges and courts.

On Monday Sufi Muhammad warned all the civil judges to vacate their offices for the new Qazis (judges under sharia courts).

Challenging the writ of the government, Sufi claimed there was no need for President Asif Ali Zardari’s approval on the Nizam-e-Adl (Shari) Regulations, 2009 as such regulations had already been implemented in the region without presidential consent.

Earlier in consultation with Sufi Muhammad the Malakand Commissioner has appointed seven Qazis in the District. Two of those Qazis have been appointed to Mingora District Court and one each for Barikot, Khwazakhela, Matta, Kabal and Behrain areas of the Malakand respectively.

President District Bar Association Swat Aftab Alam said only one judge was able to go to the court.

Aftab said "We are suffering. And there is no security. We have been asked not to attend offices. We have appealed to provincial government to solve the issue otherwise there will be no peace."

He added that lawyers are going to call an emergency meeting of the Malakand Direction Committee to solve the issue as they are still in confusion that whose writ is applicable in the valley.

The government had singed a peace deal with the militants on February 16th accepting the demands of Sufi Muhammad for enforcement of Islamic judicial system in Swat Valley and Malakand division of North West Frontier Province.

- Asian Tribune -

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