UNDERSTANDABLY, the entire nation feels outraged at the cruel act of flogging of a teenage girl in Swat by fanatical religious elements supposed to be dispensing an Islamic punishment but on an untried, and apparently flimsy, charge. The incident has grave implications not only for the future of peace accords that the authorities have been trying to strike with what are termed as pliable Taliban but also for the country as a whole. It is a sheer negation of the Islamic democratic and pluralistic system envisaged by the Quaid and Iqbal. According to a latest report, TTP spokesman Muslim Khan denied that the flogging occurred in Swat but defended it on the ground that the woman was of a "loose character". Declaring that no interference would be tolerated in the imposition of Sharia, he threatened to catch hold of the person who made the video and punish him. These remarks make the official claim that the deal in Swat would not affect the writ of the state look ludicrous. On the international plane, the incident would provide ample justification to the opponents of peace agreements for decrying the very idea of entering into such deals and bring a bad name to the country. The right-minded people anywhere in the world would justifiably condemn it. The President's spokesman has viewed the incident as an act of "unpardonable...barbarism" and asserted that the militants would not be allowed to impose a "medieval and obscurantist agenda in the name of religion". The Prime Minister has condemned it as shameful and ordered an immediate inquiry. Political parties, civil rights groups, the general public and religious scholars - all across the length and breadth of the country have openly come out against this reprehensible twisting of the tenets of Islam. The US, its Western allies and the hostile media would have a field day in trying to underrate Sharia and would have another argument against peace agreements. The suo moto notice taken by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has been widely hailed. Even the government that had been looking askance at the exercise of this power by the CJ would not take umbrage. The authorities would have to hold firm to the principle, 'the writ of the state must prevail under all circumstances' in dealing with the issue of militancy. The obscurantist forces ought not to be permitted to impose their retrogressive version of the glorious religion. The party that struck the deal with the government in Swat must be summoned to explain its position and the accused and the unfortunate girl produced before the Supreme Court to meet the demands of justice.