Flogging Video Shocks Pakistan, Puts Swat Valley Peace Deal in Jeopardy

Recent Reinstated Chief Justice Chaudry to Hold Hearing Monday

A video of Pakistani Taliban-linked militants flogging a 17 year old girl in the Swat Valley has shocked the nation. In it, the begging girl is restrained by two men (one of whom is allegedly her brother) and whipped 34 times in front of a crowd. She was accused of adultery.

The video sparked an outcry among rights groups, and put the Swat Valley peace accord into serious jeopardy. The Pakistani government had agreed to a peace deal in which Islamic law was to be enforced across Malakand, which would include giving courts the option to sentence people to floggings like the one seen in the video. President Zardari said he will not sign the bill introducing Islamic law until peace is restored.

Government officials have promised an investigation into the incident, though reports from the area suggest it was far from isolated and dozens of floggings have taken place. Chief Justice Chaudhry, recently restored to power, has summoned officials before the court regarding the incident for a hearing Monday.

Members of the provincial government, as well as the local Taliban factions, labeled the video’s release a “conspiracy” designed to sabotage the peace deal. While that may indeed have been a consequence, the authenticity of the video does not appear to be in question. Rather, they said the video pre-dated the peace deal, though members of the TNSM made it clear that legalized floggings would be part of the agreement, should it survive.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.