This grainy footage appears to show a 17-year-old girl being beaten by Islamic radicals in Pakistan’s northwestern region of Swat, where Sharia law was introduced after the government reached a truce with the Taleban in February.
A local Taleban commander in the militant stronghold of Matta, 25 miles from the regional capital, Mingora, ordered the girl to be flogged a week ago after accusing her of adultery, according to local reporters.
But some residents of Matta have accused the commander of ordering the beating to get revenge after the girl refused to accept his proposal of marriage, the reporters told The Times.
“Please! Enough! Enough!” the girl is heard crying in Pashtu, the language of the tribes who dominate northwestern Pakistan – now the main hub of Taleban and al-Qaeda activity.
At another point, she cries: “I am repenting, my father is repenting what I have done, my grandmother is repenting what I have done...”
The man flogging her is also heard abusing his colleague as he struggles to hold her down and stop her covering her backside with her hands.
“You should hold her tightly so she doesn’t move,” he is heard saying.
President Zardari of Pakistan insists that the truce was made with “moderates” in the region and his officials have even held it up as a model for other parts of Pakistan’s troubled northwest, which borders Afghanistan.
The deal was agreed with Sufi Mohammed, the leader of an outlawed Islamic movement who was recently released after six years in jail for leading thousands of his supporters to Afghanistan to fight American forces in 2001.
He is the father-in-law of Mullah Fazlullah, the 33-year-old cleric who leads the Pakistani Taleban in Swat and is known for propagating his strict interpretation of Islam through pirate FM radio broadcasts.
Pakistani officials argue that many residents of the Swat Valley, which only became part of Pakistan in 1969, have long demanded Sharia law because of the weakness of the secular state judicial system.
However, this footage appears to back up reports from many local residents that the men who have over-run Swat are no more moderate than the Taleban government that ruled Afghanistan until 2001.
It is also likely to reinforce fears that the militants are now using Swat, which is just 100 miles from the Pakistani capital, as a base to spread their ideology and launch terrorist attacks deeper within Pakistan.