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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Taliban vows to extend rule over Pakistan

Tue, 14 Apr 2009 16:10:31 GMT | PressTV

Taliban insurgents have vowed to extend their influence to major cities in Pakistan

Taliban leaders in Pakistan vow to eventually extend insurgents' rule from the troubled northwestern region to other parts of the country.

Sufi Mohammad, a pro-Taliban cleric, mediating talks between the Islamabad government and the Taliban insurgents, emphasized that once Taliban rule is implemented in the restive Swat valley and its adjoining areas it would soon after be extended to other parts of the country as well, Dawn reported Tuesday.

He urged all of his loyalists to work towards furthering the insurgents' influence in the so-called settled areas in Pakistan.

The remarks come after President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday night approved the final draft of a bill that legitimizes the Taliban rule in the troubled valley.

Also, the Islamabad parliament passed the measure without debate as the militants had warned MPs against opposing the deal.

Taliban had warned the lawmakers who opposed the deal in parliament would be considered apostates and would face the death penalty in the insurgents' self-style courts.

Although at least one major political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) boycotted the parliament process, saying deal in Swat is an effort to enforce a law, which is parallel to the country's law.

MQM's lawmakers also emphasized that this was a sensitive issue, since there were people with different schools of thoughts and orders in the region.

They maintained that MQM was strongly against the Taliban culture spread forcefully by Kalashnikov.

A senior leader Dr. Farooq Sattar said Swat deal was only forced at gunpoint; therefore, MQM can't support it at any cost.

MQM has a greater political clout in southern port city of Karachi and other major towns in Sindh province. It is also extending its influence in some cities and towns across Punjab province.

The bill passed by the parliament and signed by the president will introduce a harsh Taliban judicial system in the troubled Malakand division, comprising of six north-western districts including Swat.

The developments come after Taliban stormed the district of Buner -- some 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Islamabad, took control of adjoining areas in the district, and threatened to take over Islamabad.

The Taliban militants have set up a parallel administration with courts and checkpoints in the Valley and the most of the troubled northwestern region.

The Taliban have repeatedly hinted that they would take their war to the capital Islamabad and other major cities. "The day is not far when Islamabad will be in the hands of the mujahideen," a Taliban Commander said on Wednesday.

In late February, local authorities in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP) agreed to recognize Taliban's rule in Swat Valley as military surrendered to the insurgents in the volatile area.

The Taliban has long campaigned to impose Wahhabi style laws, which include beheading and storming female educational centers.

The insurgents have also formed forces in the region to punish people who violate their decrees.

The US along with Saudi Arabia encouraged the formation of militant groups in the troubled region in the 1980s to counter the then Soviet Union influence in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents carry the legacy of such groups.

Pakistan suffers from the wave of violence seven and a half years after US-led forces invaded neighboring Afghanistan in 2001 allegedly to oust the Taliban, to destroy al-Qaeda, to capture Osama bin Laden and bring security to the volatile region.

Despite the presence of more than 70,000 US-led foreign troops in Afghanistan, insurgency has escalated in the war-torn country and spilled over into neighboring Pakistan as well.

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