The Pakistan Army says it is investigating a video posted on Facebook showing men in army uniform beating up suspected Taliban militants or sympathisers.

A military spokesman said if the video was proved authentic, the Army would take action against those involved.

The 10.17-minute video, which is making waves on Facebook, shows uniformed soldiers questioning Pakhtun men at an apparent detention centre, beating, kicking and whipping them on not getting satisfactory replies.

After each round of questioning in an open courtyard, the questioner, who looks like an officer, steps back as three or four other men in uniform surround kicking and punching him, while one soldier whips him with a riding crop.

Most of the suspects, clad in shalwar-kameez, appeared old and grey and observers say they could not be militants themselves, but may have been detained because their family members are suspected to be with the Taliban.

They roll and tumble on the ground in pain and screaming “Ya Allah, Ya Khuda” as they are whipped and kicked.

The rest of what is being said in the video is not too clear but according to the BBC, which first reported the video on its website, the officer tells a suspect that this is “soft treatment”, and that he would be forced to hand out “hard punishment” if he was not more forthcoming.

“You don’t want me to cut off your hands and feet,” BBC reported the officer as saying.

It is not clear where the video was shot, though BBC said it could be Swat, where the Army recently carried out anti-Taliban operations.

Major-General Athar Abbas, the military spokesman, told The Hindu that the Pakistan Army was investigating the video for its veracity.

“In case it is proved that it has happened, the people involved will be taken to task. We do not tolerate such things in the Pakistan Army,” he said.

“But we will need some time to establish the veracity of this video, and get to the bottom of this. Right now, it has gone into the hands of the experts who are examining it.”

The Army won widespread national support for the Swat operations. Observers believe that support could be undermined by the alleged human rights violations, making it difficult for the military to win public backing for the possible expansion of the anti-Taliban operations to the tribal area of South Waziristan.

This is not the first time that allegations of human rights violations have been levelled against the Army in the course of the Swat anti-Taliban operations.

Since it declared victory in the operations in July, and as locals who fled the troubled valley in the wake of the fighting returned, hundreds of mutilated bodies of suspected Taliban have turned up at various places in Swat and others parts of the Malakand region.

The bodies have given rise to allegations of extra-judicial killings by the military, but the Army has strongly denied involvement in the killings.

Last month, the non-government Human Right Commission of Pakistan called for a government enquiry into the appearance of the bodies. It also advised the security forces against patronage of lashkars or local militias to hunt down militants as their activities, driven by the desire for revenge against the Taliban, would be difficult to monitor or control.

The issue has received scant coverage in the local media, presumably as it involves treading on the military’s sensitivities. The same media caution was evident on Friday, with all Pakistani channels shunning the Facebook video. Until late in the evening, there were no reports about it on any of the channels, though the video is spreading fast on the popular networking site.

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