More than a year ago, a trusted source and expert on Pakistan said that if you wanted to know how serious Pakistan is about fighting terrorists in its midst, observe how it deals with its homegrown terrorist leaders. Pakistan has been unwilling (or unable, or both, depending on your point of view) to jail Hafiz Saeed, the chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and has freed Maulana Abdullah Aziz, the leader of the radical Red Mosque in Islamabad who incited an uprising in 2007. And now, according to Daily Times, Pakistan may also free Sufi Mohammed, the leader of the pro-Taliban Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed [TNSM or the Movement for the Enforcement of Mohammed’s Law], from jail and may cut another peace deal with him.
In case you need to reminded about Sufi, he’s the man who orchestrated the Swat uprising that led to the Taliban takeover of the Malakand division. Sufi also sent more than 10,000 Pakistanis to fight US forces in Afghanistan in 2001-2002. From Daily Times:
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has delayed the trial of banned Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) chief Sufi Mohammad after the prosecution department failed to produce solid evidence and witnesses against him, Daily Times has learnt.
Official sources in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Home and Tribal Affairs Department revealed that first the TNSM chief’s trial was delayed due to security reasons and Taliban’s threat to anti-terrorism judge and it was decided to run his trial in Central Prison Peshawar. But, the sources added, the provincial government was now delaying his trial due to non-availability of witnesses and solid evidence against him.
“The government is taking no interest in the trial of TNSM chief and there is a possibility that he once again be released through an agreement,” an official told Daily Times on condition of anonymity.
Two months ago, the provincial government had delayed the trial of Sufi Mohammad due to security reasons and Taliban’s threats to Swat anti-terrorism judge Asim Imam. The provincial home department reviewed its decision to produce Sufi Mohammad and other key terrorists in Swat anti-terrorism court and approved trial of TNSM chief and other key terrorists by a judge of anti-terrorism court in the prison.
The anti-terrorism court judge was scheduled to start Sufi’s trial in various cases on July 20 in the prison, but the trial could not resume on the scheduled date.
More on Sufi and his role in the Swat/Malakand nightmare here. Note that the government also released Sufi last summer, despite the fact that the military was heavily engaged against the Taliban in Swat at the time. He was re-arrested a month later.
Also, read this if you want to be reminded about how the Taliban were able to take control of Swat and the surrounding regions, with the aid of a senior member of the Pakistani government. Syed Muhammad Javed, the former pro-Taliban commissioner of the Malakand Division who held a victory party for top Taliban leaders in Pakistan after the Malakand Accord was signed, was also released from prison.
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