The BBC Urdu news website was at it again. When as usual I opened the BBC Urdu website and scrolled down the page to “Is Waqt Ki Maqbool Tareen Khabren” (Most Popular News Items Of the Time), I was shocked to find a news item “Nawjawan Ladki Ko Sar-e-Aam Kodon Ki Saza (Young Girl Flogged Publically) featured in them.
Immediately, I could recollect a barbaric scene, a video clip of a young girl being flogged in public by the Taliban. About two years back, BBC Urdu reported an incident of the same nature in Swat Valley of Pakistan and claimed that some Taliban-like people lashed a young girl ( between 12 & 17 years of age) with more than 15 lashes in public view.
The incident was reported after the Pakistani troops signed a peace agreement with the Taliban of Swat Valley in February 2009 facing criticism by West. In May 2009, the Pakistani troops and the Taliban again fought with each other as the treaty was reportedly broken.
Though the BBC report did not mention any sure reason behind the punishment, yet some of the media reports suggested that the “married girl” had been “living with her father in-law without her husband’s permission”.
On January 17, 2011, the BBC publishes a similar report dealing with the same kind of incident. I thought to myself, “What kind of people are these Taliban! They were thrown out of rule long back in 2001. They were made to flee into caves and mountains by the U.S. troops and left shattered. It marked the end of their struggle for establishing Islamic rule. But whenever they find any chance they do not miss it to implement what they call Shariah Law. They flogged an innocent girl some years back and now they have done it again.”
I clicked the news headline and a news item with a video popped out. I started reading and when after reading some paragraphs it seemed to me that I had read this news article before, I checked the date. “Last updated” on “Thursday, 2 April, 2009, 17:19 GMT 22:19 PST”, the news read.
Oh! So this was the same news i had read two years earlier. Perhaps, for some technical reasons it featured as one among BBC Urdu’s Most Popular stories of January 17, 2011: “Aishwarya Denies and Salman Quits Wine”, “Nawaz Sharif in Sindh”, “Photos of Golden Globe Award”, “Pakistan Leads By 11 Runs” and “Young Girl Publically Flogged”.
But such type of mistake is impossible by a well organized and professionally handled BBC! Especially when the authenticity of the video itself on which the news is based was questioned in the past. In the words of BBC Urdu, the Taliban (Pakistan) spokesperson Muslim Khan when contacted had said he did not know about this incident. He had also maintained that the video was morphed and that the Taliban did not punish publically.
What may be the reason that a 2009 story reappeared in 2011. Just as it grabbed my attention it must have attracted a lot of readers. So this is how BBC Urdu increases the readership. People are interested in such news item. The common man reads the news and forms his views on certain issues without even bothering of the authenticity of what he is reading.
By: A H Y