As the politics of intrigue and rumor heats up, even more, in Pakistan and after the recent dramatic political events, the news of Pakistan’s most important existential battle – against the extremism of the Taliban and their ilk – seems to have slid off the front pages.
Yet, a news item in The News reminds us that the murderous militants are now setting their eyes towards District Dir, after gaining control of Swat. One got a better glimpse into the mind of one of the key players in the Swat saga, Sufi Mohammed, in an interview given to Daily Timesâ€™ Peshawar Bureau Chief Iqbal Khattak. Speaking in Mingora, the 74 year-old father-in-law of militant leader Fazlulah gives many important glimpses into his own thinking and priorities.
Here is the interview published in Daily Times:
You said in a 2005 interview with us that what Al Qaeda and the Taliban are doing in Pakistan is haram. Are Fazlullahâ€™s activities over the last sixteen months also haram?
Sufi Muhammad: Yes, I said that about Al Qaeda, but not about the Taliban. Let me say…that debate on past happenings is disallowed in Islam. A hadith sharif says, what has happened in the past should not be discussed.
But how can we proceed without debating the past?
The hadith sharif says a Muslim should not discuss past happenings because he may not remember all the [details] and, therefore, he may…sin by not speaking the truth.
A majority of Swat residents do not think the peace deal recently signed between the TNSM and the NWFP government will last long.
God Almighty does everything; he builds and destroys countries.
Residents also doubt whether peace is possible in the presence of armed Taliban.
Everyone keeps weapons. People in Peshawar have weapons with them.
You support keeping weapons?
Yes, you can keep weapons with you.
Did you ask Fazlullah to surrender weapons after the sharia law deal?
Keeping weapons is halal in Islam.
President Zardari said recently that force would be used if the Taliban do not surrender weapons in Swat.
His statement is childish…immature.
With sharia law in Swat, there will be a complete ban on music and girlsâ€™ education, and people will be forced to grow beards?
There are five subjects â€” judiciary, politics, economics, education and the executive. The judicial subject will be with us, the rest is beyond our control.
The Taliban are kidnapping government officials and killing soldiers, yet you still hold the army responsible for ceasefire violations.
Kidnapping cases are taking place all over the world. The military violated the ceasefire.
The military says some of its soldiers were shot dead while bringing water.
No. This is not the case. The soldiers were not killed near any stream.
Are soldiers moving freely in Swat after the peace deal?
No. The military cannot move freely unless peace is restored.
After peace is restored, will the army leave Swat?
This is Pakistanâ€™s army and Swat is within Pakistanâ€™s borders. I will have no objection if a military cantonment is established here.
Locals say innocent people have been killed. Will the aggrieved families be able to get justice?
I have told you already: we will not discuss what has happened in the past. Sharia law does not allow this.
If a court summons a key Taliban commander, will he appear before the court?
If Caliph Umar (RA) can appear before a court, then why canâ€™t others?
So Fazlullah will also appear in court if summoned?
If he does not… he will be acting against the sharia law.
What you did in Malakand in the 1990s and then in Afghanistan in 2001 you called â€˜jihadâ€™. Are Fazlullahâ€™s activities over the last 16 months in Swat also jihad?
I do not want to speak on this.
What are Fazlullahâ€™s plans after the peace deal?
He will support imposition of sharia law.
You have termed democracy â€˜infidelityâ€™. But Maulana Sami-ul Haq, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Qazi Hussain Ahmad are taking part in the democratic process.
Democracy is not permissible in sharia law. I will not name [these leaders] but they are taking part in infidelity. I will not offer prayers if one of [these leaders] is leading those prayers.
Do you intend to export sharia law to other parts of Pakistan?
If people help me, I will. Otherwise, no.