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Islamic law within the framework of Pakistan, says US

By Lalit K Jha in Washington
February 18, 2009 09:31 IST
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Observing that Islamic law is within the framework of Pakistan, the US has refrained from making any comment on the peace deal between Islamabad and a Taliban-linked group for enforcing Shariah law in the Swat Valley.

According to the peace deal, Pakistan has agreed to enforce Islamic law in this part of the country as part of a peace deal with the Taliban militants, who have announced a10-day ceasefire. "As I understand it, Islamic law is within the constitutional framework of Pakistan. So I don't know if that is particularly an issue for anyone outside of Pakistan to discuss, certainly not from this podium," State Department spokesperson Gordon Duguid told reporters, in response to a question on this issue.

Refraining from passing any comment on the peace deal with the Taliban militants, Duguid said the US is in touch with the Pakistan government on this issue. "We are discussing the issue. But that's about all I have for you at the moment. We'll wait and see what their fuller explanation is for us," he said.

In the past, when former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf entered into a peace agreement with the militants in the tribal areas of the country bordering Afghanistan, the US at a later stage was very critical of such an pact. However, the agreement failed to yield the desired results.

When asked if this is a good or bad development for Pakistan, Duguid said: "We've seen these sorts of actions before. What is, of course, important is that we are all working together to fight terrorism, and particularly to fight the cross-border activities that some Taliban engage in attacking in Afghanistan." He said the administration was in touch with the Pakistani government, and the US embassy in Islamabad is fully engaged with the government to find out exactly what their strategy was.

Meanwhile, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation which has 55,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan expressed concern over the Pakistani truce with the Taliban militants. "We should all be concerned by a situation in which extremists would have a safe haven. Without doubting the good faith of the Pakistani government, it is clear that the region is suffering very badly from extremists and we would not want it to get worse," NATO spokesperson James Appathurai said in Brussels.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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