A peace deal has been struck between local officials and Taliban militants in a northern part of Pakistan known as the Swat Valley that will allow the Taliban to implement Shariah law in the region if their armed campaign ends. According to the Telegraph, the region has a history of Shariah (Islamic) law, but many fear that the deal will not stop Taliban aggression in the region.
The US has reportedly privately supported the deal, but the Obama Administrations special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan told the Telegraph that “I talked to people from Swat and they were, frankly, quite terrified. Swat has really deeply affected the people of Pakistan, not just in Peshawar but in Lahore and Islamabad.”
In December, regional Taliban leader Mullah Shah Doran announced an education ban that impacts women and girls in the Swat Valley. The directive set a deadline of January 15 for all girls, both in single-sex and co-educational schools, to be withdrawn. The Taliban threatened to bomb schools that ignore this directive and to severely punish violators. At the time, teacher Mohamed Osman told the Times of India that “we have no choice but to follow the orders. The government cannot give us protection. Taliban runs a parallel government in 90 per cent of the area of the district and they execute everyone who opposes them.”
Enrollment of women and girls in schools and colleges in the Swat Valley region is only a quarter of what it was only three years ago, before the Taliban gained strength there, according to the The Australian. In the past year, more than 180 schools, many of which were all girl institutions, have been destroyed in the area. During the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which lasted until 2001, Afghan girls were forbidden to attend school.