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Documentary film maker Samar Minallah’s video of the 17-year-old Chand Bibi’s public flogging was news that shook the world.

Written by Ruchika Talwar | April 11, 2009 10:49:55 pm

Documentary film maker Samar Minallah’s video of the 17-year-old Chand Bibi’s public flogging was news that shook the world. The video has become the big talking point in the Pakistani media,drawing unabated criticism. Following his successful restoration as Pakistan’s chief justice,Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry did what exactly what made him lose his job during the Musharraf years. He took suo motu cognisance of the “shari punishment” awarded to Chand Bibi and ordered the girl,along with the local legal representatives to appear before his court last week. However,the girl buckled under pressure,and denied any such action. Following this,some voices in Swat declared the video fake and made a surprisingly funny demand of Chaudhry. The News reported on April 7: “Swat Qaumi Amn Jirga Chairman Syed Inamur Rehamn has demanded of the Chief Justice to take suo motu action against those involved in the release of the ‘fake videotape’¿He said certain elements,including the US and Israel were out to sabotage the peace accord signed between the NWFP government and the TNSM.” 

MQM’s self-exiled chief Altaf Hussain made a sane objection but suggested an insane punishment to Chand Bibi’s perpetrators. The News quoted him on April 7: “He demanded of President Zardari,PM Yousuf Raza Gilani and Interior Adviser Rehman Malik to publicly hang those who had flogged the girl…Altaf also lashed out at the Taliban and said they were defaming Islam. He made it clear he did not accept the Shariah of the Taliban.” 

Syed Mansoor Hussain,in Daily Times on April 6 said he had expected more out the lawyer’s movement. “It was disappointing when the Long March ended in Gujranwala. I had hoped that having achieved the restoration of CJ Chaudhry,the marchers would have gone straight on to Swat. If indeed the real purpose behind the Long March was restoration of the ‘rule of law’,then what better place to bring that message to than the valley under sway of Taliban-style justice?”

Resisting the Taliban 

Finally,the wronged citizens of Pakistan’s troubled tribal areas are up in arms. The defiant Taliban continue to flex their muscle and issue scary warnings like the one reported by The News on April 6: “We claim responsibility for the Islamabad suicide attack. It was in retaliation for a drone attack in Orakzai,” Taliban commander Hakimullah,a close aide of Baitullah Mehsud,said. “We have shown enough restraint…Previously,we were striking once in three months,but from now onward we will go for at least two suicide attacks a week.” In the face of this,inhabitants of these strife-torn areas no longer seem resigned to their fate or even waiting for the government to fight for their cause. In another report on April 9,The News stated: “Villagers dug up roads to block the entry of Taliban from Swat into Buner and took up positions at vantage points in the hills to fight the militants…The men had collected weapons and set up bunkers in the hills above the village for self-defence.” 

Facing flak for his government’s inability to curb terrorism which has by now become a daily phenomenon,Prime Minister Gilani attempted to pacify a delegation of Pakistan’s newspaper editors. Dawn,on April 10 reported: “PM Gilani reiterated his government’s commitment to eradicate the menace of terrorism and renewed his offer of dialogue to militants if they laid down their arms¿ He warned that the government would strictly deal with those who would challenge its writ. Gilani said the government was working on a three-pronged strategy of dialogue,deterrence and development to counter terrorism.” Gilani added: “These elements while taking advantage of the hospitality and benevolence of the patriotic,brave and honourable tribesmen,want to make our fields and streets barren,destroy our educational institutions,turn our sites of worship into killing places,smiling lives tearful and deprive the eyes of beautiful dreams of the future.” However,in an unconnected statement,he raked up the Kashmir and Mumbai issues: “We stand by our principled stand on the Kashmir issue. We faced the situation in the aftermath of Mumbai attacks with patience and civility and emerged successful.”

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