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Trading Sharia For Peace

A Pakistani deal sets a troubling precedent:

Pakistan government officials said they struck a deal on Monday to accept a legal system compatible with Shariah law in the violent Swat region in return for peace.

The agreement contradicted American demands for the Pakistan authorities to fight harder against militants, and seemed certain to raise fears in Washington that a perilous precedent had been set across a volatile region where U.S. forces are fighting Taliban militants operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan....

They said the authorities agreed to a legal system rejecting any law that did not comply with the teachings of the Koran and the sayings and teachings of the prophet Muhammad, known as the Sunnah....

The region’s Swat Valley was once one of Pakistan’s Alpine tourism resorts but the flow of visitors dried up and thousands of people fled their homes after militants launched an uprising in 2007.

Since then, Taliban leaders have proscribed what they call un-Islamic activities by residents, including watching television, dancing and shaving beards, and they have sometimes beheaded offenders. The penalties are regularly, and terrifyingly, announced over radio stations under the militants’ control. Tens of thousands of residents of the area, which was once a popular tourist spot and considered a mainstream part of the country, have fled the intimidation and violence.

Welcome to the "good war."

P.S. An editorial in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper--apparently written on the eve of the deal--warns:

There is no scope here for negotiation until — and that time is still distant — the Pakistan government and military can dictate terms and talk to the Taliban from a position of strength. The deals cut in the past in sheer desperation encouraged the militants.

So much for that.

--Michael Crowley