Nizam-e-Adl Regulation: Top sharia court set up in Swat
SWAT: Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti on Tuesday inaugurated Darul Qaza (an appellate or revision court) in Swat as a step towards full implementation of the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation (Order of Justice System).
The Nizam-e-Adl Regulation, a controversial act approved by President Asif Ali Zardari after parliamentary approval on April 13, 2009, formally introduced sharia law in Malakand division.
It was the result of negotiations between the ANP-led government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Maulana Sufi Muhammad, the chief of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM). And critics saw it as a move towards ceding ground to the hardline Taliban.
Speaking at the inauguration, Hoti called it a day of rejoicing for the people of Malakand division who have long been calling for sharia law in the region for speedy dispensation of justice.
“Today our joy knows no bounds. The government has fulfilled a long-standing demand of the people,” said a proud Hoti. “Terrorists successfully exploited this issue because people can tolerate everything, but not injustice.”
The chief minister was referring to obscurantist Taliban, led by fugitive cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who had launched a bloody campaign for the enforcement of their version of hardline Islam until they were defeated by the military in 2009.
Hoti defended the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation despite widespread criticism from liberals. “We respect detractors. But at the same time it’s a fact that a record numbers of cases – 27,000 civil and 39,811 criminal – have been decided after the implementation of the new act, last year,” he said.
Critics say that the Nizam-e-Adl will establish a parallel judicial system in the country. And the Taliban would seek to export their system of sharia to other regions of the country.
The chief minister credited political parties and the people of Malakand division with the establishment of Darul-Qaza. “This court will ensure cheap and speedy justice, which was the basic demand of the local people,” he said.
Provincial Law Minister Arshad Abdullah called it a landmark achievement of the ANP-led provincial government which established Darul Qaza despite criticism from home and abroad. “The international community is now satisfied. And now people in other areas of the province are also demanding a similar judicial system,” Abdullah told The Express Tribune.
Opponents of Nizam Adl say the government has given in to the Taliban by introducing sharia-based judicial system in the region. But provincial the additional advocate-general rejected the criticism. “It has been a demand of the people of Malakand division since 1975,” Ikram Khan told The Express Tribune.
The lawyers’ community is also happy with the establishment of Darul Qaza. “It’s a day of rejoicing for the people of Malakand,” said Asghar Khan, president of the Swat Bar Association. “It’ll save local people time and money as they had to travel to Peshawar to pursue their cases in the high court.”
The Nizam-e-Adl Regulation envisages establishment of, besides lower courts, Darul Qaza (appellate or revision court) and Darul Darul Qaza (final appellate or revision court).
Its implementation was delayed after Maulana Sufi Muhammad sought appointment of men of his choice as qazis in sharia courts. He was, however, arrested in July last year following a full-scale operation, codenamed Rah-e-Rast.
Criticism apart, the fact of the matter is that the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation – a replica of the regulations agreed in 1994 and 1998 for Swat during the regimes of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif – promises quick justice. And in case of delays in disposal of cases not only the Qazis would be questioned but also the parties trying to drag the case would be made to pay the cost of the case to their opponents.
To ensure quick justice, the courts are bound to decide the cases, whether of criminal or civil nature, within a stipulated time period. For a civil case, the time period is not more than six months, and for criminal case it is not more than four months.
The Qazis and magistrates are bound by the NAR to follow established principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah and recognised opinions of scholars of Islam. But the cases of non-Muslims in matters of adoption, divorce, dowry, inheritance, marriage, usage and wills shall be decided in accordance with their respective personal laws.
(Published in The Express Tribune, on Tuesday, January 19th, 2011)
Militancy in Malakand: Sufi Muhammad charged with terror:
PESHAWAR: As the Darul Qaza is inaugurated in Swat, an anti-terrorism court in Peshawar framed terror charges against TNSM chief Maulana Sufi Muhammad.
The octogenarian cleric had pursued the demand for imposition of a Islamic sharia in Malakand division for almost two decades. He is now behind bars after he was arrested by authorities in July last year from Peshawar.
Pakistan’s legal system was extended to Dir, Swat and Chitral after these princely states were merged with Pakistan in 1969. In 1975, the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (Pata) Regulations I and II transferred judicial powers to the executive instead of the judiciary.
In early 1990s, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) declared that the regulations were unconstitutional and discriminatory in nature. The judgment, which was also upheld by the Supreme Court, opened an avenue for Sufi Muhammad who had set up the TNSM in 1989 after splitting with Jamaat-e-Islami.
In 1994, the provincial government announced that sharia courts will be set up in Malakand after street protests by TNSM activists. The legislation was named Nifaz-i-Nizam-i-Sharia but the TNSM rejected it, saying it was subservient to procedural law which was laid down by foreigners in the subcontinent.
Tempers flared again in November 1994 and an operation was launched against the TNSM and Sufi Muhammad and other senior leaders were arrested. Four years later, the government issued an amended version of this law but the cleric also rejected it.
In 2001, Sufi Muhammad was jailed upon returning to Pakistan from fighting in Afghanistan. He was released in 2008 to woo militants in Swat and an accord was reached with the government agreeing to enforce Nizam-e-Adl regulations.
However, Sufi Muhammad’s relationship with the PPP government soured as he began a verbal diatribe against Pakistan’s legal system. In early 2010, he called it ‘kufr’ while addressing a public meeting in Mingora. The peace agreement broke down as the military moved into Swat and Sufi Muhammad went into hiding.
(Published in The Express Tribune, on Tuesday, January 19th, 2011)