NEW YORK: Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed concern about a controversial peace deal Zardari government signed with militants and decried they (militants) are trying to export their particularly harsh version of sharia.
In an interview published in USA today Sharif asked rhetorically ‘how do we deal with the situation in Swat?’ Sharif observed ‘they are now threatening to get out of Swat and take other areas into their custody. So we've got to avoid that situation.’
Nawaz Sharif asserted ‘any deal with militants should include commitments that ‘democracy will not be allowed to deteriorate and the writ of the government will be honored,’ adding that women's schools and universities must be allowed to stay open.
The newspaper said Sharif who had called for a ‘revolution’ to topple the government backed off from criticising Zardari saying he wants to work with ruling coalition.
In the interview conducted in Lahore, Sharif downplayed fears that the nuclear-armed country could be taken over by Taliban militants, who are gaining strength both in Pakistan and in neighboring Afghanistan, where they are battling US and Nato troops.
Sharif stressed the insurgency in Swat and border areas could be defused in just two years if sufficient economic development took place.
USA today said Sharif, who served two terms as prime minister in the 1990s before he was ousted in a military coup, is in a strong political position once again after staring down his rival, President Asif Ali Zardari, last month in a confrontation over the independence of Pakistan's courts.
After talking of a ‘prelude to revolution,’ Sharif escaped house arrest to lead thousands of protesters on a march toward the capital of Islamabad. The public pressure forced Zardari on March 15 to back down and reinstate judges purged by the previous, military regime.
The newspaper said that Sharif sounded triumphant. ‘My eyes still can't believe what they saw on the 15th of March,’ he said.