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Hoti promises girls’ education in Swat

By Saleem Athar
MINGORA: Girls will be allowed to attend schools in Swat valley but must wear veils in line with local norms, NWFP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti said on Monday.
Addressing a peace jirga during his first visit to Swat since he took oath a year ago, Hoti said sharia had been enforced in Swat and the Taliban do not need to take up arms any more.
“It was the demand of the people of Malakand to enforce sharia and we accepted it. Now the militants do not need to take up arms,” Hoti,
The landmark visit to Mingora comes after the provincial government and pro-Taliban cleric Sufi Muhammad agreed on February 16 on judicial reforms in the area.
Shortly before the tour, there were reports that suspected Taliban had freed a paramilitary force commander and his five guards who had been abducted on Sunday.
Hoti later told a news conference that his government would “pull Swat out of darkness” and make it a peaceful place. “The enforcement of sharia will remove the people’s sense of deprivation,” he said.
“The journey for Swat peace will continue and Sufi Muhammad’s support will be important. My government will look forward to his support,” the chief minister said.
But he warned that the peace process could face turbulences and that “all such tests must be faced with courage and determination”.
He asked the policemen and officials who had deserted their jobs after Taliban took control of the area to rejoin their duties.
Practical steps: Hoti said the government would take ‘practical steps’ for the implementation of the new Nizam-e-Adl by March 15 — a deadline that Sufi gave on Sunday.
“We announced the justice system after taking the federal government into confidence and we hope the president will sign the draft regulation,” he said.
He said security forces would leave the schools they had occupied. Boys’ schools had been reopened, he said, and girls’ schools would open soon.
Source: Daily Times
Date:3/3/2009

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