Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Afghan Women after 2014

VIEW : Afghan women after 2014 — Fakiha Hassan Rizvi

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), one in two girls who should go to school remain at home in Afghanistan 

The unwavering faith and intense struggle of Afghan women has continued since the civil war started in Afghanistan. As the only woman to this date ever to be crowned ‘Miss Afghanistan’ (Zuhra Yousaf) puts it, “War steals the very breath of life. Afghanistan stopped breathing and the little that was achieved by Afghan women came to a standstill.” The female gender in the land operating under the yoke of Taliban rule had always been striving to deny the gender role that was assigned to them. They had coveted the identity that was invaded by the feudal lords, bigots and warlords. An average Afghan woman, even today, in any part of the world, feels like a pendulum swinging between ‘Orientalist representations’ and ‘stereotypes of Islamic tradition’ imposed on her. All she is worried about is ‘what others think of her’. The promises of peace, security and egalitarianism for them seem to fade away. Even after a decade of bombing and NATO strikes, Afghan women are still searching for their lost identity.

The question arises: why?

After the twin bombing of the World Trade Center, which the world remembers as 9/11, the weakening of the Taliban and al Qaeda was being portrayed as the liberation of Afghan women. However, nothing ‘just’ seems to prevail in their homeland for them. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), one in two girls who should go to school remain at home in Afghanistan. One in five children do not survive long enough to make it to school. Women trafficking rose to unprecedented levels since 2001. Economic problems, enhanced poverty and problems such as forced marriages have resulted in the dramatic increase of ‘self-immolation’ among women. Although 25 percent of parliament comprises of women, honour killings are still executed at an expeditious rate. Despite tragedies and hopelessness, Afghan women are valiantly fighting for their rights. They clearly denied the gender roles being ascribed to them by the Taliban and now they are dissenting against the tags placed on them by the invading forces. Had the champions of ‘peace, equality and humanity’ kept their promises, the situation would have been a lot different. Now, even a baby girl born in Afghanistan would be a matter of concern for her mother who would be worried about her existence in a respectable way. In her own way and according to her culture, norms and religious beliefs, she tries to shield her from forced social control.

While directly relating the downfall of the Taliban with the emancipation and empowerment of women, the west has forgotten the state structure and laws in Afghanistan. It is evident that Afghans emphasise on state-imposed changes to women’s legal and social status. The reforms initiated from 1919-1929 were a consequence of constitutional amendments. During the reign of King Amanullah Khan, women were guaranteed equal rights under the constitution. Female students were sent to Turkey for higher education. Then in 1959, the policies of Muhammad Zahir Shah allowed women to unveil voluntarily and to find employment. By 1964, women even won their right to cast votes. All these changes were legitimised only through constitutional means.

Contrary to the above mentioned measures of the past, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the United States failed to devise any workable or long term strategy to ensure peace in the region. The devastation worsened due to drug cultivation, terrorist activities and the upward trajectory in crime rates. NATO forces made Afghanistan a battleground between themselves and the insurgents. The worst affected actors were the Afghan women. They were deprived of a conducive socio-political environment to institutionalise their legal rights such as education. This is the reason that women are still questioning their fate and future in Afghanistan, especially after the withdrawal of NATO forces from their country. Activist and author of A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice, Malalai Joya has faced attempts on her life after speaking out against the oppression of women under the Taliban, but she is explicit in counting the US and NATO too as enemies of Afghan women’s (and men’s) right to live and learn in peace.

Entrenched in the mesh of uncertainty and trepidation, Afghan women are now looking forward to an alliance with the clerics. They are requesting pro-female Friday sermons. For them it is a hope to defeat violence and ameliorate the pitiful state of their rights. This campaign is likely to start in Kabul and would be implemented in all the provinces. However, there are 160,000 mosques in the country of 30 million people and this campaign will remain restricted to 3,500 government-funded mosques. With the withdrawal of the foreign invaders looming, Afghan women are now retreating to seek the support of traditional men who have always been represented as their worst enemies. Had the western analogy of ‘de-Talibanisation’ and ‘peace for women’ been correct or fruitful, the Afghan women would not have been left pleading for their fundamental rights.

The writer is a student of Communication Studies at University of the Punjab. She blogs at and tweets at @Fakiha_Rizvi

Originally published in Pakistan Daily Times

Tweets about Afghan Women after 2014

Tweets about Afghan Women after 2014


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Quantifying the Terror Laden War

quantifying war on terror -page001

9/11 became the synonym of disaster and anguish in the 21st century. The so-called ‘war on terror‘ that was supposed to restrain terrorizing factors has caused even greater harm to human beings. For more than a decade, countless lives have been extinguished and human beings have been propelled to devour violence. The extent of suffering and brutality has trespassed all boundaries of morality. ‘We’, the silent spectators are standing at a point where human life is equated with a mathematical digit. This, obviously, isn’t new. History is preserved in a quantitative way. It will continue to do so till the time precious corporeal bodies will be quantified.

In a recent report that Pakistan‘s top brass intelligence shared with the Supreme Court it was revealed that:

24,000 people both civilians and troops were killed in terrorist attacks during the period between 2001 and 2008.

15,681 casualties have been suffered by the armed forces in the tribal areas since 2008- with 2009 being the deadliest year for them.

5,152 civilians have been killed and 5,678 injured in bomb blasts and suicide attacks since 2008.

More than 200 members of tribal peace committees or Lashkars, including volunteers and chieftains , were also killed and 275 wounded in targeted attacks in the last 3 years.

In return the intended targets don’t even reach 30% of the unnecessary or innocent victims.

As, since 2008, only 3,051 insurgents were killed. Another 1,228 were wounded in security operations.

235 suicide hits

9,257 rocket attacks

4,256 bomb explosions in the last five years

‘Brazen attacks and mutilated bodies’ is the most prominent outcome of a war that was in vain keeping in view the purpose with which it was waged. This isn’t new, it was initially indoctrinated during the Afghan war when the same insurgents and fundamentalists were the most applauded heroes in the US. The American hawks felt that it was justified to provide books under the USAID to Pakistani children living in the tribal regions near bordering Afghanistan. Those books taught children the basic ‘addition and subtraction’ not by counting apples or oranges, but by looking at the number of Russian soldiers! They know how to count, thanks to those cost-effective books! However, this time they are counting the members of their tribe and family. It isn’t hard to predict that how will they balance the equation, they too will quantify the terror laden war!


Posted by on March 30, 2013 in International Affairs


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Media and the Coverage of ‘Terrorism’

Director, Institute of Communication Studies, Prof. Dr. Ahsan Akhtar Naz addressing the audience, Seated: Left (Farrukh Sohail Goindi), Center (Mujeeb ur Rehman Shami), Right (Sajjad Mir)

Communication technologies have provided an instant and easy access to global issues and ‘terrorism‘ is in the list of ‘most frequently exposed’ topics. The Institute of Communication Studies, keeping in view the sensitivity and complexity of the link that media has with the portrayal of terror, arranged a seminar on November 8, 2012. The seminar was presided over by the Director of the Institute of Communication Studies, Prof. Dr. Ahsan Akhtar Naz. In his preliminary note, the Director opined that terrorism took a lot of space in the global media after the 9/11 attacks. According to him, private television channels in Pakistan give more coverage to certain events that are a consequence of terrorism while there are some which are never brought into limelight. He suggested that policy makers at media institutions should identify and eliminate this difference in coverage. Farrukh Sohail Goindi and Sajjad Mir also shared their views with the students. The Chief Guest for the seminar was Mujeeb ur Rehman Shami.

While expressing his opinion about the ‘war on terror’, Farrukh Sohail Goindi said that there was no inquiry about the 9/11 attacks. Al-Qaeda was accepted as a terrorist organization. He told the students that during a visit to the United States even a person driving a Taxi asked me about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear assets. ‘Everyone was concerned whether or not Osama Bin Laden has access to Pakistan’s nuclear assets and I used to chip in a lighter vein that he doesn’t, but the US can get an access to them’, said Goindi. Discussing the issue of media portrayal, he said that Osama Bin Laden was a freedom fighter when he was fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan for the ‘US interests’. Farrukh Sohail Goindi was of the opinion that Western media was following the agendas of US imperialism and Pakistani electronic media is also helping them to impose their opinions. He concluded with an interesting analogy, “for me the media can terrorize more than any General of NATO or a leader of Al-Qaeda and I call those ruthless terrorizers ‘General BBC‘, ‘General CNN’”.

Sajjad Mir before sharing his views stated that he couldn’t disagree with Farrukh Sohail Goindi. According to Sajjad Mir, the battle of left versus right has been eliminated, the world in gradually diving into the cyclone of ‘corporate culture’. He considered media a part of the capitalist system. Sajjad Mir discussed the manipulative strategies employed by the media in order to frame specific people as terrorists. He highlighted the prevailing terrorism in Mexico, which has never been given so much attention. Recalling an interview with the BBC, Sajjad Mir told the students that he was asked 20 years ago about the definition of a ‘fundamentalist’ and he defined it as a ‘political, economic and social resistance movement against imperialism’. In his concluding note, Sajjad Mir said that for achieving fairness and balance in the coverage of terrorism it is essential to get rid of media imperialism.

The Chief guest of the seminar, Mujeeb ur Rehman Shami advised the students to fight intellectually and compete with the world by gaining knowledge. He urged them to conduct research studies on the coverage of terrorism by the media.


Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Reporting at the Institute


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One Nation, Two States, Antagonistic Economies

The proximity of the spiritually bonded states, often reckoned to be a single nation has continued for more than half a century now. Both, Pakistan and Turkey have engaged into amiable political relations for the past six decades. It is noteworthy that during the massive Earthquake of 2005 and the catastrophic floods of 2010, Turkey was the first country to extend a helping hand towards Pakistan. However, with the changing waves in the arena of global and regional politics, diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Turkey are devoid of an economically symbiotic relationship. The significant geo-political status of these two states also account for the criss- crosses that marked the diplomatic pathway which leads to the maintenance of regional balance of power rather than reinforcement of ties. Transition of governments has also led to major re-orientations in foreign policies of the two countries. Turkey’s geographic location designates the central position to it among the Balkans, the Caucus, the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. Similarly, Pakistan is considered the gateway of Central Asia, West Asia and South Asia, holding ethnic affiliations with all kinds of nationalities leading Pakistan to be a strategically pivotal actor in the South Asian region.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) (AK) party might have felt a little less impressive victory in 2011 than that in the elections of 2007. On the other hand, a dictatorially mutilated Pakistan witnessed a faint wave of democratization in 2008 alongside a faltering economy. Pakistan encountered the open-ended foreign policy of the 11 year old centre-right conservative JDP. The Turkish leader in his second joint sitting of Pakistani parliament, was cognizant of the hostile political environment prevailing in Pakistan, the reason he stressed upon ‘political consensus’ and the role of ‘constructive opposition’. While linking both these politically mature traits with economic progress he ensured Turkey’s support for ‘fighting terrorism’. Pakistan and Turkey are standing shoulder-to-shoulder in order to curb terrorism, ties are strengthening, but Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product growth is decreasing along with this while Turkey is witnessing an increase in the GDP growth (+9%). The rise in inflation in Pakistan is followed by a decline in inflation in Turkey. Despite this the Turkish premier expressed his desire for a joint investment in a third country during his recent visit to Pakistan. It is often believed that the post 9/11 economic cooperation between both the countries was mainly due to Turkey’s interest in Pakistan’s unravelling economy which had a lot of potential and the inflow of financial aid was a key target for Turkish companies.

The recent agreements signed between the Government of Punjab and Turkish companies has opened a new channel for economic cooperation. Turkey’s ability to construct some of the finest dams in the world is not being considered in comparison to Pakistan’s hydro-electric potential. Focus is inclined towards projects like solid-waste management, transport and communications, which tend to benefit the investor. The BRTS (Bus Rapid Transit System) seems to be an unsustainable gift by the Mayor of Istanbul (Kadir Topbass) – for whose drive in the bus with the Chief Minister, Punjab was brought to stand-still for a day. There is no assurance that these agreements would continue with the change in government in Punjab.

Being a Friend of Democratic Pakistan and at the same time enjoying membership of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Erdogan had supported the resumption of NATO supplies after the November 26 attack on Salalah check post, that is contrary to the aspirations of the masses and stance adopted by Pakistan’s foreign office after the attack which claimed the life of 24 Pakistani soldiers. His mention of the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan by 2014 called for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned Afghanistan without any allusion towards stability in the border regions of Pakistan. In a competitive international stage, the progress of countries is measured by their economic stability and prosperity. Bilateral ties that are governed by soft-power exchange may strengthen the bond between two states, but cut at the roots of symbiotic economic cooperation. In the case of Pakistan and Turkey, the ties have resulted in ‘one nation, two states, but antagonistic economies’.

The verbal content of this post was originally published in Jahangir World Times, July 2012.


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