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Human Rights Watch demands revocation of Swat deal

Washington, Apr.17 (ANI): Leading human rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Pakistan to immediately reverse the Swat Valley peace deal as it not only establishes a de-facto Taliban government in the region, but also poses a grave threat to the rights of women and children.

In a statement, HRW called for the details of the February 15 peace deal to be made public and said that any agreement must ensure the basic human rights of the population.

“The Taliban are taking Swat back to the dark ages and the Pakistani government is now complicit in their horrific abuses,” The Nation quoted Ali Dayan Hasan, senior South Asia researcher of Human Rights Watch, as saying.
“Tossing out the rights of the people in the tribal areas reflects abysmally on both the government and the Pakistani military’s ability to protect citizens,” he added.

HRW also expressed concern about the likelihood of increased abuses against women and girls in Taliban-controlled areas.

The concern expressed by the HRW follows similar expressions of anxiety by the United States over the Pakistan National Assembly giving its nod to implement the Islamic law in the Swat Valley.

US State Department spokesperson Robert Wood said Washington has conveyed its concerns to Islamabad regarding the issue.

Wood said United States believes that violent extremists need to be confronted.

“Well, look, you know, our views on the whole issue of Swat are well known. And, you know, we believe that extremists, violent extremists, need to be confronted, and we’ve made that very clear. The government of Pakistan is aware of our concerns about this issue,” The Dawn quoted Wood, as saying.

Wood said the US is particularly worried about the right of women and overall human rights situation following the implementation of the Nizam-i-Adl regulations in the region.

“We’re very concerned about parliament’s decision, the decision of parliament with regard to the question of, you know, women’s rights. We’re going to continue to have discussions with the Government of Pakistan on these issues,” he added.

The Pakistan Taliban, which has gained a foothold in Swat, intends to spread its influence more broadly across Pakistan – and may face little resistance in some areas

After securing their demand for imposing Islamic law in the Swat Valley, the Taliban has moved into the neighbouring district of Buner and won the right to preach in mosques there.

The success in Buner came with little fighting – unlike in Swat, where they’d battled government forces on and off since 2007, The Christian Science Monitor.

Pakistan Taliban militants are still holding several areas of Buner, carrying out armed patrol to keep up a campaign for recruiting fighters, and having no impact of the enforcement of Nizam-e-Adl Regulation, as demanded by their Swat counterparts.

This continues their expansion beyond their stronghold in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan to the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), where Swat and Buner are located. The two areas lie about 60 miles from Islamabad, the capital.

Residents in Buner initially fought the incoming Taliban last week by forming a lashkar, or tribal militia. According to newspaper reports, they killed 20 militants. But they soon found themselves outnumbered as hundreds more Taliban fighters swarmed the area.

Buner tribal elders met with Taliban representatives twice in the past week at a jirga, or council. They guaranteed the militants the right to preach in mosques, as long as they did not threaten local residents or their property. The fighters agreed to leave by last Friday.

But that promise remains unfulfilled. Although more than 100 had departed as of Monday, armed Taliban militants are still roaming freely through marketplaces and mingling with local tribesmen, says Abdur Rahman Abid, a journalist based in Sultanwas, a village in Buner.

Government officials say they can’t prevent the peaceful entrenchment of the Taliban in Buner.

On Monday, Taliban members briefly detained a government official they had mistakenly identified as belonging to the Lashkar, along with his security personnel. (ANI)

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