by Bashir Gwakh
A coarse video shows a 16-year-old girl receives 37 lashes by the hands of a Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat, where the government reached a truce with the Taliban in February.
Residents told BBC that the Taliban has forced the girl to marry her so-called lover and the boy has warned not to divorce her. Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan defended his “right” to flog the girl in public. However, he claimed the girl is married and has been “living with her father in-law without her husband’s permission”. Although pro-Taliban media has spread the rumors that the girls had had an affair with her father in-law, Khan did not clarify the girl’s living status with her father in-law.
When asked if full investigation has taken place and enough evidence was available to lash the girl, Khan was quick to say, “This video is an old one. At the time, we were at war and scholars (Taliban scholars) were unable to set at one place and gather evidence. However, the girl and her father in-law confessed [?] and that’s enough.” (Watch the 2nd video. It’s in Urdu language.)
Today, April 4, Muslim Khan appeared in a press conference and told a different story, contradicting his initial statement (as quoted above and shown in the video below). He said that it’s a 7 month old video and has not happened in Swat but somewhere else. He also claimed that the video is bogus and the people in Taliban dresses are not Taliban.
Contrary to Taliban spokesman, the local reporters say this shocking incident had taken place in Swat within the 20 days, following the signing of a peace deal between the provincial government and militants which gave them a partial but influential control over the valley’s judicial system. Taliban have rapidly strengthened their hold on Swat and surrounding areas, the main hub of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda activity.
The Video (watch it below)
“Please! Enough! Enough!” the girl is heard crying. “I am repenting, my father is repenting what I have done, my grandmother is repenting what I have done…” The man flogging her is also heard abusing his as he struggles to hold her down and stop her covering her backside with her hands. “Hold her tightly so she doesn’t move.” The girl is released after receiving 37 lashes on her hips. While the reprimanded girl cries and seems futile, a Taliban member could be heard saying to a man who is believed to be the girl’s brother: “Take care of her, pimp!”
The Story (What Really Happened)
According to a BBC Urdu report, local residents said the girl was from a poor family of Kala Kalay village and was flogged after a ‘Taliban secret agent’ reported she had had an affair with a local electrician.
The girl and the electrician were neighbors. It was not a good day for the recent graduate of Swat Polytechnic College when he was called by the girl’s father to fix their electricity failure. Eventually, a Taliban spy saw him entering the house and reported to his superiors. Taliban immediately responded and apprehended the guy.
According to eye witnesses, the Taliban brought both the boy and the girl to a busy street and lashed each of them 37 times respectively. However, flogging the boy is either not recorded or the video has not made public yet. The radicals did not stop there and married the tormented girl to the boy without their wish. “Neither had he [the boy] had any sort of connection with the girl nor was he willing to marry her… He is so embarrassed by what had happened to him and the girl. He is in a total shock and has locked himself in the house,” a relative of the boy told BBC. The source added that the boy has repeatedly asked for sleeping pills.
Pakistan’s Chief Justice has ordered the Secretary Interior to bring the girl along with him on April 6. He has also ordered to arrest the responsible individuals. However, I do not think the Pakistani government will be able to even touch the ‘responsible individuals’ (Mawalana Fazlullah, the Taliban leader in Swat, his spokesperson Muslim Khan and leaders of the infamous movement). Even if the dare to, it means breaking the peace treaty which will bring more violence to the region and slip the valley further from Pakistan’s hand. And I do not think Pakistan is going to take that risk.
Peace truce was/is not a bad thing and that is why lots of people supported it at first place. But it does not mean that the governments should let the insurgents whatever they want to. I am just thinking that Pakistan has plainly handed over Swat to the Taliban so they could not only admonish the local people but provide safe havens and training centers for those who fight against Afghan and Coalition forces on the other side of the border in Afghanistan.
“They have committed so many atrocities since the peace deal. They have taken entire control of the district. There is nobody to control them; they decide disputes according to their whims,” Sher Muhammad Khan, an official in Swat with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, told The Guardian.
Taliban Spokesperson Justification