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Outrage over Taliban flogging of Pakistani girl could threaten peace deal

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"There are no words strong enough to condemn the incident," says Ahmad Shah, principal of a local private school. "But the question is why now? Where was the outcry from [nongovernmental organizations] and the media when hundreds of people were being executed before the peace deal? Where were the countrywide strikes then? The situation is now on the right track. Let's give an opportunity to the peace process."

The government lacks the ability to arrest Taliban militants, even if it wished to, he adds.

"Killers are no longer roaming the streets, there are no longer public hangings," adds Sardar Ali, a clothing shop owner. "During the fighting there was chaos, now things are much better."

The February peace deal

On Feb. 16, a cease-fire was declared between the Pakistan Army and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), led by Maulana Fazlullah. It came after three years of sporadic fighting that left 1,200 people killed, at least 250,000 displaced, and saw the destruction of more than 200 (mainly girls') schools. As part of the deal, the government agreed to allow the region to be governed by Islamic law, or "Nizam-i-adl," which was a key demand voiced by Mr. Fazlullah's father-in-law, Sufi Mohammed, who leads the movement's political wing.

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