Swat Taliban to be tried in Islamic courts

Some good news, and some potential bad news from Swat. First the good news, from Dawn:

The commander of the operation against militants in the area of Swat, Kanju underlined that 105 militants have laid down their arms during search and clearance operations.

During a Press Briefing, Brigadier Suleman said the operation is moving in the right direction and as a result of it 105 militants have laid down their arms, out of which 18 were most wanted.

Now clearly 18 “most senior” Taliban commanders did not surrender. In fact, only one of the 21 most wanted is thought to be dead (Shah Doran), the rest are still on the loose. However, taking 105 fighters – essentially a Taliban company – off the battlefield is a good thing.

And now, what looks to be bad news [emphasis mine]:

In response to a question, he said the militants will be presented before Qazi Courts adding that their future will be decided by the courts rather than the army. He said that those militants who will not lay arms will face will be killed.

The ‘Qazi Courts’ are the Islamic or sharia courts that were established this spring as part of the agreement with the Taliban in the Malakand Accord. These courts are administered by Islamic judges, and the decisions cannot be appealed to the higher Pakistan courts. Even if the qazi judges are not sympathetic to the Taliban’s cause, their decisions may be influenced by the extremists, given that the Taliban leaders are still at large. And the message being sent is terrible: the Taliban fighters and leaders will be judged by the same courts that were created under the Taliban’s force of arms.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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