Zardari orders probe into 17-year-old Swat girl’s flogging

Asif_Ali_Zardari_1.jpgIslamabad, Apr. 4 : Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered a probe into the case of Taliban flogging a 17-year-old girl publicly in Swat, where the government recently signed a sharia deal with the Taliban.

Zardari has sought a report from the NWFP provincial government, and has called for the arrest of those responsible, a presidential spokesman said.

"President is shocked by the act of barbarism that has brought down heads in shame. Such barbarism is unpardonable," the Daily Times quoted spokesman Farhatullah Babar, as saying.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also took serious note of the incident, and has sought a report.

The incident has put the controversial Swat peace deal in jeopardy, with TV footage showing the Taliban mercilessly beating the girl.

The two-minute video shows a veiled girl, face down on the ground with two men holding her arms and feet. A third man whips her backside repeatedly for allegedly having `illicit relations with her father-in-law' - causing her to scream: "Either stop it or kill me."

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan has admitted that his group was responsible for the flogging in public, which took place nine months ago.

However, NWFP Government spokesman Mian Iftikhar claimed that the flogging took place on January 3, much before the peace deal with the Taliban.

"We believe there is a conspiracy to sabotage the peace process by airing a video recorded before the deal," he said.

The girl reportedly said the whipping took place within the last ten days.

Muslim Khan added that the Taliban had been `lenient' with the girl, who would have been stoned to death had a `serious view' of the `crime' been taken.

"The entire village knows she is innocent," a human right activist told the media. (ANI)