Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani declares the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)’s sharia-based court system in the Swat Valley “not acceptable,” but indications are that there is little the Pakistani government is able to do about the TTP’s growing influence in the area, or its court system.
Indeed, reports are that a majority of the Swati population is looking to the TTP’s courts as an alternative to the government’s own court system. The TTP has sold the idea of the courts to the tribal population as a jirga to settle disputes, though residents say the trials are handled by religious leaders instead of tribal elders.
The power of the courts in the region is apparent though, as the courts have ordered dozens of “wanted” persons, including current government officials, to appear before the court under threat of sharia-based punishment. With the TTP’s enormous influence in the region despite ongoing military operations, the orders will be difficult for any but the most powerful officials to refuse.