Feb 20, 2009

Govt dismisses international criticism over sharia deal

The government on Thursday dismissed as speculative the growing criticism of the accord signed with the Tehrik Nifaz-i-Shariat Muhammadi for introduction of Nizam-i-Adl in Malakand, warning speculations would not be helpful.
‘Establishing peace, security and stability are matters of highest priority for Pakistan government and it will use all necessary means to achieve these objectives,’ said Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit at a weekly media briefing.
His comments came as the US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, in his fresh criticism of the peace accord said the US was ‘troubled and confused’ about what happened in Swat because ‘it is not an encouraging trend’.
He termed the situation very serious and cautioned against the area being ceded to ‘bad guys’.
The US is likely to take up the Swat peace deal with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi when he visits Washington next week. Previously, Nato and Britain had severely criticised the accord, both fearing that the situation in Swat would worsen.
Mr Basit said the government was engaged with the international community and putting across its viewpoint.
He said the accord was part of government’s three-pronged strategy — dialogue, deterrence and development.
Allaying concerns about enforcement of Sharia in the valley, the spokesman explained that the Nizam-i-Adl meant ‘system of justice’, which was linked to the restoration of peace and tranquillity.
He reassured the international community that Pakistan remained fully committed to rooting out terrorism. ‘Pakistan attaches immense importance to eliminating militancy and terrorism,’ he said
SPECIAL ENVOYS: Almost a month after welcoming Mr Holbrooke’s appointment as US special envoy, Pakistan’s enthusiasm for special envoys appears to be waning. On Thursday the Foreign Office spokesman, in comments on the appointment of a special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan by Germany, said the experience showed that partial solutions did not work.
Mr Basit called for addressing the underlying causes of regional problems.
He said Pakistan could only hope that these initiatives helped formulate fresh and effective approaches to the challenges facing the country.
US POLICY REVIEW: The spokesman said the government welcomed the US decision to review its policy towards Pakistan and Afghanistan.
‘It is important to have a policy that is credible and sustainable. It must be in consonance with the imperative of peace, security and prosperity of the region.’
He said Pakistan was expecting a positive change in the US approach to drone attacks.

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