Taliban flog teenage girl in Swat (Lead)

April 3rd, 2009 - 9:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad/London, April 3 (IANS) The dangers of imposing Sharia laws in Pakistan’s restive Swat Valley were brought into sharp focus Friday with the airing of a two-minute video showing a 17-year-old screaming, burqa-clad girl being whipped by Taliban fighters for coming “out of her house with another guy who was not her husband”.
The grainy video, shot on a mobile phone, showed the girl face down on the ground. Two men held her arms and feet while a third, a black-turbaned fighter with a flowing beard, whipped her repeatedly, London’s Guardian newspaper reported.

The newspaper said it received the video through Samar Minallah, a Pashtun documentary maker.

“Please stop it,” the girl begged repeatedly. “Either kill me or stop it now.”

After 34 lashes the punishment stopped and the wailing girl was led into a stone building.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the incident while Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani ordered an enquiry.

Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry also sought a report on the incident and ordered it be presented Monday before a eight-member Supreme Court bench headed by him.

This could lead to a fresh confrontation with the government as Chaudhry could well open a hearing into the legality of the government agreeing to impose Sharia laws in Swat and six other districts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in return for buying peace with the Taliban.

“She came out of her house with another guy who was not her husband, so we must punish her. There are boundaries you cannot cross,” the Guardian quoted Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan as saying.

While talking to Geo News, Khan said the girl would have been stoned to death if a cleric had been present.

At the same time, he said his organization did not approve of the manner in which the punishment was meted out.

“She should not have been punished out in the open,” Khan contended.

The punishment was meted out within last 10 days, Minallah, who shot the video said.

“This video is being widely circulated because the Taliban want people to see it. They want to give the message that this is taking place after the peace deal because this is something they ideologically believe in,” Guardian quoted her as saying.

The girl’s brother was among the men who pinned her down, she added. “It’s symbolic that he does it with his own hands. It gives him honour in local society, that he has done it for the sake of religion.”

Minallah had received an international award in 2007 for her campaign against feudal customs practised among women in parts of the NWFP and Punjab.

The NWFP government ceded authority to the Taliban under a peace deal, giving the militants a free hand to impose their puritan Islamic rule on the around 600,000 people of Swat and its neighbouring districts.

The peace accord signed with pro-Taliban cleric Maulana Sufi Mohammad includes measures to establish Islamic courts, a ban on music, expulsion of prostitutes and pimps from the area, closure of businesses during prayer times, and a campaign against what they call obscenity.

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