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Pakistan - interview Swat valley Taliban

All Pakistan should be under sharia law, says Taliban spokesperson

by Tony Cross

Article published on the 2009-04-28 Latest update 2009-04-29 07:51 TU

A soldier on a bridge in Pakistan's Lower Dir district where troops launched an offensive against militants earlier this week(Photo: Reuters)

A soldier on a bridge in Pakistan's Lower Dir district where troops launched an offensive against militants earlier this week
(Photo: Reuters)

Pakistan's Taliban aim to spread Islamic sharia law through all of Pakistan and beyond, says Taliban Swat valley spokesperson Muslim Khan. As government troops try to clear two districts the Islamists took over last week, Khan told RFI that the government has no reason to believe that they will honour a deal to stay within the valley.

Khan admits that the Taliban "don't care" if the government believes that they will keep to an agreement signed earlier this year. That deal allowed the Taliban to impose Islamic sharia law in just one district, Malakand, in exchange for peace.

Comment: Muslim Khan, Swat valley Taliban spokesperson

28/04/2009 by Tony Cross

 

"These people believe or not believe, we don't care about that," Khan says. "And we never care about the policy of Pakistan [if it] is going on the United States or other countries."

Khan, who learnt English while living and working in Boston in the 1990s, says that an Islamic caliphate should be established to rule all countries where Muslims are the majority and that sharia should spread beyond Swat valley to the whole of Pakistan.

"If you are a Muslim [like] 95 per cent of Pakistan, Khilafa [caliphate] should be not only for this division, Khiafa should be for all Muslims around the world," he says. "Khilafa is the better system, the Shariat is the better system for the life of Muslims. Any other system we cannot accept."

Military jets moved in to back up troops in the offensive in the North-West Frontier Province. It was launched on Sunday after the Taliban moved into Dir and Buner districts, in breach of a peace deal in which they agreed to lay down their arms in return for imposition of sharia law in Malakand.

The military on Monday claimed to have killed over 20 Taliban fighters. Khan says that the movement has killed 22 soldiers and lost only two of its members. He also says that two civilians have been killed.

The offensive has displaced 30,000 people, according to Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain on Tuesday.

Officials have reported that the broker of the deal, Soofi Muhammad, had disappeared. Khan, who says that he is about 100 km from the fighting, told RFI that he has talked to Muhammad by phone and that he is in Dir district, which the government claims to control.

He accuses President Asif Ali Zardari of reaching a deal with the Taliban in order to gain grants from the administration of US President Barack Obama.

He believes that Zardari thought that "Obama will not accept, so they will offer more money ... then they signed and they get the money and now they start again". 

Despite the fighting, the peace deal is not dead, according to Khan, who says that Soofi Muhammad has ordered that it continue to be observed in Swat valley.