Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

The Taliban and women’s rights in Pakistan

Posted by alifinmath on April 11, 2009

Ayesha Siddiqa came out with a book a couple of years back, titled Military, Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy, describing how Pakistan’s military has hijacked not only the political system but also the corporate sector. The book’s been on my wish list for a couple of years but there’s only so much I can read, oft reminding myself that “much reading is a weariness of the flesh” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). She is also a columnist for the Dawn newspaper in Pakistan and she has something at the moment on how women are at the receiving end of the Taliban’s attentions:

Such representation of women in the media is also an indicator of the larger danger of a kind of radicalisation in society that has gradually begun to threaten life in the country, especially in urban centres. Given such representation, is it strange that families of working women should be threatened in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore? The other day I was talking to a friend who was in a dilemma over not being able to send her four-year-old daughter to school as it had received threats from militants in Lahore. Taliban-type forces in all major cities threaten schools to stop educating girls else they will be bombarded.

I was a citizen of Pakistan myself for many years and this description — accurate in my opinion — resonates with me. The “Islamisation” of Pakistan started to become a reality when that scoundrel and hypocrite, Zia-ul-Haq, assumed power in 1977. But he was a darling of the USA, which needed him to help fight the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan and so whatever polite and muted objections the morally flaccid and self-serving West might have raised to some of his measures never got made. The Taliban today, mind, is composed of the same monkeys the USA was happy to befriend, train, and equip when it needed them.

By denying women education and keeping them subjugated, the country is headed even faster towards all-embracing castastrophe. Last I read, the average Pakistani woman had 6.2 children and the population doubling period was 22 years. But this will not change until and unless women are educated, get married later, have opportunities for being something more than domestic breeding machines, cooks, and washerwomen, and learn something about contraception.

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