When US Troops Leave Afghanistan
"In cases where the woman is seen as a clear sinner who stands in defiance of Shariah, such a woman is not only allowed to be attacked but there is an obligatory instruction for such action." — Ehsanullah Ehsan, spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, discussing the shooting of 14 year-old Malala Yousafzai for asking for an education; he has vowed to try again to kill her.
The Pakistani Taliban caused widespread revulsion when it recently gunned down 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, whose "crime" was to ask for an education. Although assassinations and terrorism are common in Pakistan, what provoked such outcry is that Yousafzai was targeted because of her background as a campaigner for women's rights.
Yousafzai lives in the Mingora area of Swat in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, where scores of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters have taken refuge. Yousafzai first captured their attention after launching a campaign against attempts by the Taliban to impose their version of Shariah law in the region, whereby men were forced to grow their beards and girls were prevented from attending school. She has campaigned against these demands since the age of 11.
For her efforts, Yousafzai was given a bravery award by Pakistani President Yousuf Raza Gilani last year. She was rightly celebrated and championed by politicians from across all sides of the political spectrum. Yet, not one of them ever bothered to question why a teenager needs to campaign for her right to an education. No one thought to question who would fear a small, young girl.
Herein lies the problem in Pakistan. The political class is simply unwilling to confront the Taliban which operates freely across much of the FATA region. Instead, they make political capital from criticising the drone program operated by the United States which targets terrorists in FATA. It is true that drones can sometimes be a blunt and clumsy tool, but in the absence of any will by Pakistani authorities to chase down the terrorists operating in FATA, this program is the only lifeline available to residents there who oppose the Taliban.
Two weeks ago the cricketer-turned-politician, Imran Khan, vowed to lead a "peace convoy" to Waziristan, another Taliban hotbed in FATA. Khan said he wanted protest drone strikes but, in the end, stopped short of entering FATA after the Taliban threatened to attack him. Without a hint of irony, Khan continued to blame the United States for the problems in Pakistan.
After the attempted assassination of Yousafzai, Khan was again directing his rage at America – rather than those who pulled the trigger. He told a press conference (available in Urdu here) that the Pakistani government has antagonised the Taliban by launching a crackdown in the tribal areas. Worse, he said that Taliban fighters who targeted coalition forces in Afghanistan are fighting a "legitimate jihad."
The Afghan government reacted angrily to these comments, telling the Guardian:
Either [Imran Khan is] profoundly and dangerously ignorant about the reality in Afghanistan, or he has ill will against the Afghan people.
Our children are killed on daily basis, civilians killed, and our schools, hospitals and infrastructure attacked on a daily basis. To call any of that jihad is profoundly wrong and misguided.
Although Yousafzai was shot in the head she has survived the Taliban's attempts to kill her, and is now in Britain where she is receiving special medical attention. Yet the spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, Ehsanullah Ehsan, has vowed to try again to kill her.
He has branded Yousafzai an "American spy," who spread "Western ideas." In a statement to the Pakistani press, Ehsan said:
She was pro-West, she was speaking against Taliban and she was calling President Obama her idol. She was young but she was promoting Western culture in Pashtun areas.
In a subsequent statement, he added:
In Islam and Pakhtun traditions there is absolutely no room for an attack on a woman of pure virtues. But in cases where a woman is seen as a clear sinner who stands in defiance of Shariah, such a woman is not only allowed to be attacked but there is an obligatory instruction for such an action.
She not only spied against Mujahideen but also created propaganda against them. The Gul Makai diary [an online diary Yousafzai wrote for the BBC about life under the Taliban] is an embodiment of anti-Taliban views. She has received the punishment for her sin.
The attack on Yousafzai perfectly encapsulates all that is wrong with Pakistan today. The Taliban arrogate for themselves the role of arbiters of public morality and conduct. They kill anyone who disagrees with them and are allowed to operate with impunity.
Instead of the Pakistani government moving against these forces, they prefer passivity. Their reasoning is that once American troops leave Afghanistan in 2014, the antagonisms with the terrorists will decrease. All this overlooks the fact the Taliban have entrenched themselves in Pakistani territory by killing their opponents. They have, in essence, created a mini-Taliban state within Pakistan itself.
In the meantime, the government betrays the very people in whose defence it is obliged to act. Ordinary citizens in FATA are being surrendered and betrayed to the Taliban's murderous rage so long as it does not rock the status quo in Islamabad.
More than 30,000 Pakistanis have died in terrorist attacks since 9/11. None has captured the popular consciousness of the nation in quite the way the shooting of Yousafzai has. One hopes this could prove to be a tipping point, finally stirring into action a political class mired in its own comfort.
Reader comments on this item
|Taliban running - scared of a 14 year old girl [120 words]||Valhalla||Oct 25, 2012 07:48|
|Revulsion: not nearly enough [50 words]||Ethan P.||Oct 25, 2012 05:50|
Comment on this item
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Pierre Rehov
For terrorists, the death of innocent children is irrelevant. In a society that promotes martyrdom as the ultimate sign of success, the death of innocent children can sometimes even be seen as a public relations blessing.
In every action, intent is paramount. There should never be a moral equivalence painted between the deliberate killing of civilians, and a retaliation that tragically leads to casualties among civilians.
There is, however, one small difference: in the Middle East, reporters are threatened, except in Israel. Their choice becomes a simple one: promote the Palestinian point of view or stop working in the West Bank. Keep the eye of the camera dirty or lose your job. This show should not go on.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Since 1948, the Arab countries and government have been paying mostly lip service to the Palestinians.
"They have money and oil, but don't care about the Palestinians, even though we are Arabs and Muslims like them. What a Saudi or Qatari sheikh spends in one night in London, Paris or Las Vegas could solve the problem of tens of thousands of Palestinians." — Palestinian human rights activist.
"Some Arabs were hoping that Israel would rid them of Hamas." — Ashraf Salameh, Gaza City.
"Some of the Arab regimes are interested in getting rid of the resistance in order to remove the burden of the Palestinian cause, which threatens the stability of their regimes." — Mustafa al-Sawwaf, Palestinian political analyst.
"Most Arabs are busy these days with bloody battles waged by their leaders, who are struggling to survive. These battles are raging in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian Authority." — Mohammed al-Musafer, columnist.
"The Arab leaders don't know what they want from the Gaza Strip. They don't even know what they want from Israel." — Yusef Rizka, Hamas official.
by Soeren Kern
European elites, who take pride in viewing the EU as a "postmodern" superpower, have long argued that military hard-power is illegitimate in the 21st century. Unfortunately for Europe, Russia (along with China and Iran) has not embraced the EU's fantastical soft-power worldview, in which "climate change" is now said to pose the greatest threat to European security.
For its part, the European Commission, the EU's administrative branch, which never misses an opportunity to boycott institutions in Israel, has issued only a standard statement on the shooting down of MH17 in Ukraine, which reads: "The European Union will continue to follow this issue very closely."
The EU has made only half-hearted attempts to develop alternatives to its dependency on Russian oil and gas.
by Shoshana Bryen
Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.
"Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime.... even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality)." — Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.
"The greater the military advantage anticipated, the larger the amount of collateral damage -- often civilian casualties -- which will be "justified" and "necessary." — Dr. Françoise Hampton, University of Essex, UK.