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Posted: 5/28/2003 12:52:20 AM EDT
Oh, isn't this just peachy... [url]http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20030527.upakk0528/BNStory/International/[/url] Taliban-style rule taking hold in Pakistani province By VICTORIA BURNETT From Wednesday's Globe and Mail Islamabad — The hard-line government that controls Pakistan's North West Frontier Province introduced a package of Islamic laws to Parliament Tuesday that could soon see the establishment of Taliban-style rule there. The Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), a coalition of religious parties that controls the provincial government, submitted a bill that aims, among other goals, to reform education and economic systems in line with sharia, a strict interpretation of Islamic law. "In the whole of the North West Frontier Province, sharia will be the supreme law in provincial matters," reads the bill, called the Sharia Implementation Act of 2003. The MMA intends to submit another bill in the coming days to create an ombudsman, backed by a police force, to prevent vice in the province. The move has alarmed Pakistan's liberals, who say the bills bear unsettling echoes of the ousted Afghan regime's "vice and virtue" ministry, which enforced the Taliban's strict and often peculiar interpretation of Islamic code. "This amounts to creating a vigilante force with unlimited power to [perform] witch-hunts or harass people in the name of morality," an editorial in Dawn newspaper said. The bill's introduction will sharpen unease in the international community, which has been unnerved by the rise of Taliban-style rule in the region, which borders Afghanistan and is crucial to the war on terror. The province served as the staging ground for the Afghan jihad (holy war) against the Soviet Union, and its people, who are mainly ethnic Pashtuns, share tribal and cultural ties with the Taliban. The Taliban was ousted from power in 2001, but the pro-Western Afghan government now in Kabul says remnants of the old regime are hiding in the border region. The MMA swept to office in the province in October elections on a religious, anti-American platform, and won unprecedented strength in the national Parliament. Since then, it has clamped down on what it deems "un-Islamic" behaviour, banning music on buses, arresting the owners of music and video shops and burning confiscated CDs and DVDs. It recently forbade men to coach or watch female sports and said women can be examined only by female doctors. The provincial government has declared the baggy traditional salwar kameez the mandatory school uniform and vowed to end the schooling of males and females together. In Peshawar, the provincial capital, the once-bustling Dabgari Bazaar, lined with workshops where folk musicians used to practise or wait for work, is now forlorn following a police crackdown. Shopowners in Kabuli Bazaar who sell CDs say they have lost half their business, and the poster stores are hard-pressed to sell pictures that must be hung turned to the wall. Last Friday, a gang of hard-line students went through the streets of Peshawar, tearing down all ads depicting women. A Pepsi billboard that once showed a smiling couple now sports a picture of a Pepsi bottle with one of the 99 epithets for God emblazoned above it. Maulana Adbul Jalil Jan, spokesman for Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam, one of the six MMA parties, defended the restrictions on music and dancing in a recent interview, pledging to find alternative employment for those whose business has suffered and dismissing claims that the clampdown is hurting the province's ancient folk-music culture. "There are many immoral activities, like drinking and gambling and other decadent acts; just because they've been around for centuries doesn't mean they're cultural," he said. The wording of yesterday's bill was vague, proposing commissions to bring the province's education and banking systems in line with the mandates of sharia. Usury is barred under Islamic code, and the MMA has vowed to design an interest-free financial system. The bill pledges to make the study of Islamic law a compulsory part of law-school syllabus, to ban corruption and the display of weapons, and to eliminate "obscenity and vulgarity" from society. Since the MMA commands a majority in the provincial legislature, the bill is unlikely to meet much resistance. However, the reach of the new legislation will be limited, since provincial laws cannot contravene federal laws, which govern issues such as the penal system and national economic policy. A government spokesman quoted by the Associated Press yesterday said the cabinet will review the Sharia Act when it meets Wednesday, since it believes parts of it clash with federal law. Some analysts were skeptical, however, about how far the government will go in challenging the law. General Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani President, is grappling with opposition forces in Parliament as he seeks ratification of a series of measures that extend his presidential powers, and the MMA can muster the votes needed to hand him a victory.
Link Posted: 5/28/2003 12:57:30 AM EDT
Hey! I am tring to make every post on the first page end with ar10er, would you guys stop for just a minute!
Link Posted: 5/28/2003 4:13:16 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/28/2003 7:03:38 AM EDT
Yeah, India is just going to sit by and say , "Oh OK..."
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