» interview »
'Democracy Is A Sin, Infidelity'
He was once a violent cleric. Now, at the age of 77, Maulana Sufi Mohammed talks peace, grabbing headlines worldwide for the Swat deal he stitched with the NWFP government. Formed on June 28, 1989, his organisation, the Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-e-Mohammedi (TNSM), has been fighting to introduce the Islamic system of justice since then. Nearly 154 people were killed in 1994 in what was a violent phase of the TNSM movement. In an interview with Behroz Khan and Fayaz Zafar at Mingora, Swat, Sufi Mohammed talked about the controversial peace deal. Excerpts:
You went to Afghanistan along with thousands of supporters, but only a few hundred returned.
When the US attacked Afghanistan in 2001, our organisation decided to fight alongside the Taliban and wage a jehad against the invading infidels. The US forces were the forces of infidelity; we were bound to fight jehad against them. I did jehad in Afghanistan against the US and in the process some of our comrades were martyred, some got arrested and the remaining ones returned.
Will your efforts to restore peace in Swat bear fruit?
We had promised the government to help in the restoration of peace if the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation (to implement the Shariat) was promulgated. I and my supporters are visiting different parts of the valley with our peace march. And you have seen there's peace in Swat now. There is peace in the system of Allah and Prophet Mohammed. The government's promulgation of Shariat and its implementation will ensure durable peace in the region.
Is Nizam-e-Adl a Taliban system?
No. This is only a system of justice to be in vogue in the courts only. People will get quick and inexpensive justice in the system based on Quran and Sunnah (tradition). The rest of the social issues would be automatically resolved once courts start functioning under the Shariat. We will continue our peaceful struggle for Islamising the society.
Violent incidents still take place in Swat. Do you think some third force is at work to disrupt peace?
It is possible, but they are hiding and not visible.
Will you wage struggle for the Kashmiris who are facing atrocities and are fighting for independence?
Wherever Muslims are suppressed and subjected to cruelty, that has to be condemned. Cruelty is cruelty, but our movement is limited to Malakand division only and our struggle is for the implementation of Shariat in the region.
The Indian government has accused some Pakistan-based militant groups in the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Your comment.
I have no knowledge about that.
How do you see Pakistan's crackdown on some militant outfits in the wake of the Mumbai attacks?
I am not concerned.
Will you also take along militants like Baitullah Mehsud?
We are peaceful people and are interested in the affairs of Malakand division only.
What do you think of democracy?
Democracy is a sin and nothing more than infidelity.
How are you going about restoring peace in Swat?
We have set up our peace camp here and appealed to the Taliban to disarm and wind up the checkpoints they have established in the Valley. The Taliban's response is positive. I have asked the government as well to remove the unnecessary checkposts along the roads. Now I am mediating between the two sides to ensure release of the arrested militants and captured personnel of the security forces.