Islamic Sharia Law Expands In Northwest Pakistan

March 6, 2009

Author: Mark Magnier

Source: The Los Angeles Times,0,3072254.story

In an apparent expansion of Islamic fundamentalists' authority in the picturesque Swat Valley, local Pakistani officials have agreed to close shops at prayer times and crack down on prostitution and drug dealing as part of a proposed peace deal, according to local media reports Thursday.

The steps were among 17 points agreed to at a Wednesday meeting involving provincial government officials and supporters of a pro-Taliban cleric mediating the negotiations.

Although Sharia, or Islamic law, has been in practice in many parts of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province and its tribal areas, its official expansion into a region less than 100 miles from Islamabad, the capital, last month has unnerved secular groups, human rights activists and Western officials.