Posted by: becketfund | April 3, 2009

Pakistan: Flogging Video Shakes Peace Accord

ISLAMABAD – Pakistani authorities ordered inquiries Friday into a video showing the public flogging of a screaming woman in a northwestern valley where officials have yielded to Taliban demands for Islamic law, the AP reported on April 3. A militant spokesman defended the punishment, fueling a furor that cast more doubt on a peace deal in the Swat valley that U.S. officials fear has created another haven for allies of al-Qaeda. Officials vowed to introduce impose Islamic law, or Shariah, in Swat in February to halt 18 months of terror and bloody fighting between militants and security forces that killed hundreds of people. Shariah has not yet formally been introduced and provincial officials say that, in any case, they would not condone such whippings or the harsh brand of Islamic law practiced under Afghanistan’s former Taliban rule. But the video provided a reminder of how hardliners in control of much of valley interpret Islamic law. The embattled government of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province struck the deal with a hardline cleric who helped secure a cease-fire. However, President Asif Ali Zardari’s office says he won’t sign the bill introducing Islamic law there unless he is satisfied that peace has been restored — a prospect that seemed to recede on April 3 after a sharp outcry by rights groups.

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