The Pakistani Women You Have Probably Heard About How can we engage with the economic and physical violence against women, everywhere and anywhere, without falling into the trap of creating strict, rigid lines of good and evil that are unfair characterizations of populations? Additionally, what purpose do pieces such as the above-linked NY Times article on so-called “free will marriages” ultimately serve? Now that those of us who sit as spectators of Pakistan, from the outside, know that this is an experience of many Pakistani women – what do we do? What can we do?
But what was being done in Afghanistan was done through the help and instrumentality of the Pakistan army. The first requirement of the 1979 war in Afghanistan was people imbued with anti-communist zeal. Pakistan helped manufacture as well as mobilize the Islamic extremists and trained and indoctrinated them into first-rate mujahideen.
The war was fought in the bogus name of Islam, funded and led mainly by the US government, though nominally by Afghanistan and Pakistani mujahideen.
The biggest damage was not physical, although it was horrible enough in Afghanistan. It was spiritual and political. Inevitably, a new Islam came into being. What began to emerge in the 1980s was politically different from what the Pakistanis knew as Islam.
The Islam that Pakistanis knew was recognized on all sides, even by dictators, as being able to countenance democracy and all fundamental rights. But in the 1980s, the official propaganda by General Zia ul-Haq, the darling of Reagan and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), was that Islam and democracy could not go together.
What is new is a general acceptance of a clearer West vs. Islam dichotomy in post-9/11 Pakistan, and its attendant political challenges... Women have become, once again, symbols for the (western) audience of either the progressive, modern, potential of the nation or the veiled, traditionalist, threatening reminders of faith-based politics. Muslim women's identities seem to have indeed become a project worthy of study within this new framework - a new brand of academic interest.
This article argues that these strains pre-existed 9/11, which then can merely be seen as an event that speeded up the dichotomies and gave currency to the unresolved issue of women's identities, particularly with regard to religion, in Pakistan. The war on terror furthered this cleavage and has lent a certain political credibility and legitimacy to faith-based feminism as the alternative to a larger imperialist, US-sponsored, westernized women's rights discourse.
...It is also a comment on the complete failure of the so-called progressive potential of Islamic feminism and the revivalist, reformist, apologist approach that is a major part of the women's movement. Today, those very same empowering strategies of WLUML have come back to haunt them in their most triumphant form. It is about the complete failure of the non-governmental sector to propel a progressive politics outside its projects and donor-driven agendas. Today, the same international funding agencies that funded and supported the dictatorial regimes of the 1980s are, in the new millennium, scrambling back to the drawing board looking to fund projects that can help fight 'extremism' and 'talibanization', as if it appeared post-9/11 and is an indigenous, madrassa-empowered phenomenon.
The Taliban are brutal, backward and reactionary but they aren't political naifs, and neither are their patrons. The question for me is not why was she shot, but why was she shot now and who exactly is this message for?
Humanfront, whaddyamean we can't give Obama another term? Why not make this a rallying cry TO get him another term?
For several years, the United States and NATO forces based in Afghanistan have demanded that the army carry out just such operations, but Pakistan has declined. After the shooting of Malala, there is unprecedented domestic pressure to finally do so. Pakistanis want to make it clear that they, the majority, do not support this brand of Islamic fundamentalism. If the army refuses to act now it may find itself ostracized by the very public whose support it seeks. On Monday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik was still insisting that there would be no operation in Waziristan—but the civilian government does not have the last word on any military operation.
Under immense pressure at home and abroad, and encouraged by the public outcry over the fact that the Swat Taliban were only 70 kilometers from the capital Islamabad, the Pakistani army launched Operation Rah-e-Raast (Right Path) in May 2009. Earlier, the failure of the first and second phases of the military operation Rah-e-Haq (Just Path) in Swat had forced an influential elder and political leader from the area, Afzal Khan Lala, to tell the army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani that the army and Taliban were "two faces of the same coin."
Back in 2009, the Khushal Girls’ School in Swat’s capital, which is run by Malala’s father Ziauddin, a Pushtun educator and poet, participated in an artistic end-of-Ramadan competition. The girls from the school expressed in their drawings (see below) their desire to learn and to liberate their valley from the Taliban oppression.
Many pictures presented what seems a sunny before-and-after transition: the same pupils being in the midst of a conflict; and then enjoying the Taliban-free Swat valley, holding hands and smiling.
Were it that the Swat valley could be holding hands and smiling
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