[This article was first published in Dawn 12 April 2009. It is reproduced here courtesy South Asia Citizens Web. The recent reports of the most spine-chilling instance of flogging of a young woman by Taliban goons unleashed a wave of indignation across Pakistan. This comment by Pakistani journalist Beena Sarwar is self-explanatory. For all the political illiterates and those given to anti-Muslim hate-speech in this country, this report and the innumerable discussions and posts on sites like Chowk, should indicate how much the Taliban and terrorism are hated and resisted by ordinary ‘secular’ people and women’s and human rights groups in Pakistan. They should indicate that ‘Islam’ and ‘being Muslim’ are themselves intensely contested ideas. But of course, we know that nothing can teach these hate-mongers anything, for they are the mirror-image of the Taliban. And as for us, as the old song goes: hum korea mein hum hain hindustan mein/ hum roos mein hain, cheen mein japan mein…And one might add: Pakistan mein bhi hain aur sare jahaan mein…
(There we are in korea and in hindustan/in russia we are, in china and in japan/and in pakistan too we are, we’re in the whole wide world…)
It is people like us there who must fight the Taliban, and people like them here who must fight the Hindutva fascists – always, relentlessly…Even when in the minority and especially when the political parties and leaders desert en masse. – AN]
In the “flogging video’s” undated footage shot with a cellphone in Swat (judging by the language and clothes) a man whips a woman in red, her pinned face down on the ground and encircled by men. The leather strap strikes her back as she cries out in pain.
The video, circulated on the Internet before local television channels broadcast it, caused a furore both in Pakistan and internationally. What caused the outrage? The public punishment meted out to a woman â€” or the fact that it was broadcast?