Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
The debate over the Pakistan government's decision to seek peace with Taliban militants in the Swat valley by promising to introduce sharia law is proving to be like everything else in the Pakistani kaleidoscope - turn it a little bit and you see something else.
Pakistani analyst Ayesha Siddiqa said the peace deal could encourage groups in other parts of the country to copy the example of the Taliban in forcing through changes. "The bottom line is that while conflict might be arrested for the short term in one part of the country, it might escalate in other parts where groups of people acting like the Taliban could impose their will on the rest of the population in the name of changing the judicial, economic or political system," she says. "Ultimately, this could come to redefine Pakistan’s identity completely."
But in an article in Dawn, Kunwar Idris defended the decision by arguing that the roots of the campaign for the restoration of sharia are quite different from those fuelling the Taliban insurgency in Pakistan's border areas with Afghanistan. Drawing on his experience as a government adviser in neighbouring Chitral, he says a form of sharia used to work well when Swat was still a princely state. "Pakistan stands much to gain and its allies in the ‘war on terror’ have little to lose if the Sharia courts bring tranquillity and tourists back to the Swat valley," he writes.
While India has, perhaps predictably, condemned the peace deal -- Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram called it a threat to the entire region -- what has been more interesting are Indian readings of the U.S. response. Although U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke expressed concern, the U.S. response has been relatively muted.