Press release, May 14
Lahore: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has expressed reservations about the reported terms of agreement between the NWFP government and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Swat. The NWFP government negotiating by giving concessions to militant elements engaged in terrorizing civilians not only glorifies them and their illegal acts but also encourages them. The government’s reconciliatory approach towards those using violence is seen as an incentive to other militants to raise arms against the State and manage a bargaining position. It would be unfortunate if talks between the provincial government and the Taliban lead to a clean slate for armed elements responsible for bombings girls’ schools, NGO outfits and businesses.
HRCP encourages dialogue but not at the cost of granting impunity to perpetrators of human rights abuses. Militants anywhere cannot be treated any differently from other citizens and given a higher status, in imposing their own brand of Islam, laws and morality.
By imposing the Fazalullah brand of Islam in Malakand division the government is playing with fire. It abdicates it responsibility to protect its citizens, particularly women and religious minorities from being persecuted in the name of religion. Conceding in Malakand will not be the end of the story. The adjoining areas are bound to be affected and religious bigotry will travel throughout the country.
HRCP warns that such delicate issues should not be decided from a position of weakness and for the sake of a compromise.