Raise your voices against Swat flogging: Pakistani newspaper


Islamabad : “Raise your voices loud in protest,” an editorial in a leading Pakistani daily urged Saturday, a day after a shocked nation watched a video of a 17-year-old girl being flogged by the Taliban in the Swat Valley over an alleged illicit relationship.

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“Raise your voices loud in protest. Say strong and clear that this is not for you,” The News said in an editorial headlined “Things to come”.

“Organise and march and lobby and agitate and protest and in so doing stem the tide of extremism that rolls ever closer.

“You choose. Because if you don’t choose, and the tide rolls around the corner of your street and it is your wife or daughter or sister or mother screaming in front of you as she is flogged – then you have nobody to blame but yourselves,” the editorial maintained.

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.

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

The punishment stopped after 34 lashes 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 an eight-member Supreme Court bench headed by him.

Sharia laws have been imposed in Swat and seven other districts of the North West Frontier Province under a peace deal between the provincial government and the Taliban.

“The video exposes the barbarity that lies at the heart of the Taliban movement,” the editorial said, adding: “This is the Taliban version of Sharia law in action, and it is coming to a chowk near you in the foreseeable future.”

Noting that many who had seen the video “sit astonished”, the editorial said: “It is alleged that the girl came out of her house in the company of a man who was not her husband, hence her punishment. There was no trial, she was unable to offer any defence and she was flogged on the sole evidence of a neighbour.”

The editorial lamented that “unfortunately, we do not hear the voices that speak in terms of moderation and tolerance and diversity.

“We do not hear them because they are either drowned out by the louder voices of barbarism or because they are voices that speak low and soft, out of the range of normal hearing. We would like to think that the voices not being heard are the voices of the majority, the voices that belong to men and women who want to see a developed and prosperous Pakistan that is a model for the Muslim world,” the editorial said.