Rights violation slur on Pakistani army

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s army has ordered a probe into a video posted on social networking site Facebook that appears to show soldiers abusing Taliban.

The 10-minute video shows men in military uniform beating suspects as officers stand by giving instructions. An army spokesman said that anybody found guilty of misconduct would be punished. It is not clear who shot the film or where. It appears to have been made recently, perhaps in the Swat valley.

If the authenticity of the video is confirmed, it would be the first clear proof of such abuse.

Human rights groups have accused the military of being involved in torture and extrajudicial killings in the region.

Troops recently declared they had largely cleared the Swat valley of insurgents after a sustained offensive there.

“We have ordered an inquiry. Anyone found to have done wrong will face strict disciplinary action,” Major General Athar Abbas, head of the army’s public relations wing, told the BBC. “This behaviour is not condoned or accepted in the army,” he said. “The Pakistani army is a very disciplined organisation.”

The footage shows an officer in Pakistani army battle uniform interrogating several suspects, some of whom are quite elderly and are presumably relatives of men being sought. When the officer does not receive satisfactory answers, he motions with his head and soldiers rush in to punish one suspect.

They then beat him with belts, fists and what appear to be small whips. He is also kicked all over the body by soldiers wearing heavy army boots.

The suspect is heard screaming and imploring the soldiers to stop in the name of Allah, repeatedly saying he has told them all he knows. In the video the men administering the beating have to be restrained by the officer on at least two occasions. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and other groups have accused the army of such violations during the recent Swat campaign. The Pakistani army has consistently denied allegations of extrajudicial killings, calling them “baseless.”

Pak Taliban chief ‘dead’

WASHINGTON: Newly anointed Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud may have been killed recently during clashes with a rival faction, a senior US counterterrorism official said on Saturday. “There’s reason to believe that Hakimullah may have died recently — perhaps as the result of factional in-fighting within the Pakistani Taliban,” the official told AFP, noting the warlord’s death has yet to be definitively confirmed. Hakimullah was tapped to lead the group after his predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed by a missile fired from a CIA-operated drone aircraft on August 5. — AFP