This story — www.nytimes.com/2009/04/04/world/asia/04swat.html?ref=todayspaper — raises interesting questions about the future of Pakistan, a country most experts, and President Obama and his Administration, see as a focal point of the global struggle against terrorism.
Occasionally a single incident, such as the horrible flogging video described in this article and the negative public reaction to it, can be a turning point. Many people think, for example, that the TV images of peaceful black protesters being attacked by dogs and knocked down by high-powered fire hoses were crucial to convincing Americans outside of the Jim Crow South that federal civil rights legislation like the Voting Rights Act was desperately needed. If the public revulsion within Pakistan to this flogging incident and other Taliban excesses grows, it could help to move Pakistan and its people away from religious extremism, intolerance, and the Taliban. On the other hand, if the government ignores the incident or proves powerless to address it, the Taliban may be seen as immune from punishment for such excesses, and it will in turn grow more powerful as the everyday citizens in the areas controlled by the Taliban decide that submission and compliance are more sensible than defiance. The whole story of this particular incident has not yet been told.