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Pakistan Taliban flog girl for 'having affair', release video

Pakistan Taliban flog girl for 'having affair', release video

Author: Reuters
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: April 4, 2009

A Video clip has emerged in Pakistan of Taliban militants flogging a teenaged girl accused of having an affair, a stark illustration of the spread of hardline Islamist influence.

The 17-year-old girl was flogged in public in the Swat Valley, some 140 km from Islamabad, about two weeks ago, a human rights worker said.

The Government virtually ceded control of the one-time tourist valley to militants in February under a deal to end fighting there.

The grainy footage apparently shot with a mobile phone camera, shows militants making the burqa-clad girl lie on the ground on her stomach.

One man holds her feet and another holds her head while a third man with a beard and turban flogs her with a leather strap. Men can be seen looking on.

"For God's sake, stop it...hang on, hang on," the girl cries as the man beats her across the buttocks.

The provincial Government agreed in February to let Islamists impose Shariah in Swat in exchange for peace.

Critics said appeasement would only embolden the militants who aim to take over other areas. Pakistan's Western allies fear pacts create safe havens for Taliban and al-qaeda fighters.

Most of Pakistan's 160 million people are conservative, but moderate Muslims and many of them are dismayed by the seemingly relentless spread of the hardliners.

Taliban commander Navid Khan confirmed the incident happened. A spokesman for the valley's main cleric, allied with the Taliban, said the flogging was against Shariah.

Human rights activist Samar Minallah said the girl was from a poor family and was flogged after a neighbour told the Taliban she had had an affair.

"They did this brutality just on suspicion. There was no trial. No evidence, no witness was produced," she said. A militant commander off-camera can be heard giving orders 'as the girl squirms and whimpers: "Hold her feet tightly, hold her hands tightly." Minallah said the militants had issued two minutes of footage of the beating and it was being sold in markets. "It was distributed deliberately by the militants to harass residents and make the point that they can keep on doing what they like," Minallah said.

Residents condemned the act.

"It's inhuman. If that's their Islam, sorry to say but I don't want it," said shopkeeper Abdul Kabir.

Mechanic Nasir Khan said the authorities should do something: "Why aren't they taking action against those who did it? It's criminal silence."

The leader of Pakistan's main Islamist party, the Jamaat-e-Islami, played down the incident. "It's a small thing. We should talk about drone attacks, not minor things," said Munawar Hassan, referring to attacks on suspected militants by pilotless US aircraft that have angered many Pakistanis.

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