Almost a year back the political circus in Pakistan was up in arms at having watched a video of woman being flogged publicly. The video was released after verification by some human rights activists. Only recently The News carried a report claiming that this video was a fabrication and alleging that it was funded by an Islamabad based NGO which tried to implicate Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as the perpetrators of this women’s abuse
The News 29th March 2010: A resident of Swat, who claims to have prepared the fake video of flogging of a girl in Swat, has termed it drama and revealed that he received Rs 0.5 million for doing so before the launch of military operation ‘Rah-e-Rast’.
The uproar this video generated particularly among secular elements feared that the Swat peace deal would in effect hand over Swat to the Taliban who would carry out similar brutal punishments in the garb of Islam.
On the flip side, the timing of this release was so critical that it could easily be speculated that the Pakistan Army may have been the source of the funding and attempt to drum up support for their offensive in swat. It follows in perfect line to the drama played out by Sufi Mohammed and the bogus peace deal attempt by the Government of Pakistan, which was a definite attempt to transfer the ownership of the War in Swat from the being an immensely criticized Pakistan Army driven offensive to helping it transform into a more politically palatable ‘peoples war’. This fiasco by Sufi Muhammed and the Flogging Video helped change the nation to from being Anti-offensive to a more supportive role to the national army to finish off these Talibans
If this news report is true and the video does end up being a drama staged for political / military advancements, I would be very critical against the perpetrators but will not condemn or criticize the efforts of Samar Minallah or Tahira Abdullah who initially released this video. Such efforts in whistle-blowing important issues like these need to be very supportive, as sadly they both have been at the receiving end of a public outcry, with dire threats and constant emotional barrage against them. It is my belief that at the time of the release, to the best of their verifiable knowledge, this was video, staged or upstaged, was verified as authentic by the original video-grapher. It is important to support whistle blowers and ensure that such revealing come forth, as generally the immense negativity only creates doubts forcing whistle blowers to err on the side of caution which may end up being detrimental for any important issue that must be brought forth.
Bottom line, it is for the umpteenth time, Pakistanis have yet again been taken for a ride by the military establishment and its numerous sister covert agencies, its time due pressure is applied by the civil society and the media to hold them accountable for their actions, if at all possible