Financial Times interview with President Zardari

FT: What were the significant factors which forced you to change your policy towards the Taliban in Swat and order the military operation?

AZ: Government’s policy on war against militancy is based on three Ds, namely dialogue, development and deterrence. This policy is also backed by the national parliament.

In accordance with this policy of three Ds, the provincial government of Pukhtoonkhwah (North-west Frontier Province, or NWFP) entered into negotiations with local elders in Swat, who promised that the militants will lay down arms and not challenge writ of the state in return for a system of speedy justice called the “Nizam i Adl” (enforcement of justice) regulation. The Nizam i Adl regulation was first enforced in 1994 and amended in 1999. It was again amended in 2009 in accordance with the demand of the people.

The Nifazi Adl regulation 2009 is an improvement on the regulation of 1999 and is not Nifaz i Shariat (enforcement of sharia), as is claimed by some.

Although under the constitution I as the president could sign and approve the regulation, I sent it to the parliament for discussion and debate.

The parliament through a unanimous resolution asked that the regulation 2009 be enforced in the Swat and Malakand (Northern Region). That is how it became a law.

However, in spite of meeting this demand, the militants neither laid down arms nor stopped challenging the writ of the state.

They openly defied the state, the parliament, the constitution and the judiciary, even going to the extent of declaring the parliament and the judiciary as un-Islamic.

The militants even demanded that the Qazis (Islamic court judges) be appointed by them although, according to the regulation 2009, the Qazis were to be appointed by the government in accordance with the laid-down procedure.

They then went into Buner, lower Dir and the adjoining districts challenging the writ of the state and at the same time setting up their own courts.

The government was left with no alternative but to resort to deterrence and the security agencies were tasked to clear the area of the militants and restore writ of the state. This is the reason of our resort to force.

Read the rest of the interview here

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