"Nowhere in this process has anyone said or accepted that individuals can stand up and start this kind of activity," says Bushra Gohar, the Awami National Party's senior vice president. " So long as the Taliban spokesman calls this type of act "lenient," she said, " then there's no need for the continuing for the peace talks. If human rights are going to be violated with impunity, what is the purpose being served?"
In two separate media interviews, Muslim Khan, the spokesman for the Taliban in Swat, admitted that the man whipping the girl was a member of the Taliban. He also said that the people holding her down were members of her own family, a claim that could not be confirmed. He added that had Islamic judges recently installed in Swat as part of the peace negotiations been present at the scene, she would have been ordered stoned to death.
"She had to be punished," Khan told Geo News. "The punishment administered by local Taliban was in our knowledge and they did the right thing, but the method was wrong," he added, saying the punishment should have been carried out inside.
Still, the provincial government maintains that it has no plans to abandon the peace deal and try and defeat the Taliban with the military, who had been fighting in Swat on and off for more than a year.
"I personally have concerns about this whole process, but of course I have more concerns when the military was there," Gohar said. "Once the development process has started, then the people will stand up. But they're still in a state of trauma. What we need to do is create a bit of peace for them and they can recover."
But locals are far more pessimistic. Angered by civilian casualties from the military campaign and a corrupt, slow court system, they had hoped the peace deal would bring calm and swift justice to the valley.
But instead, they fear the Taliban is getting stronger and that the fighting will resume in a few weeks. "Swat has fallen to the Taliban," Towali said. "It's the truth. Everyone knows that."
Asked about the Taliban and whether they can be trusted, one resident mentioned a Pashto saying: "If you let a snake in the room with people and expect the snake not to bite the people, you'd be a fool. Because the snake's job is to bite." Asked if the snake was biting again, the resident said, "Whenever it can, it does."