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Archive for March, 2013

The conversation

Posted by :) on March 26, 2013

The Conversation

Schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was shot last year by a Taliban gunman as retaliation against her support for girls' education. (AAP)

Schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was shot last year by a Taliban gunman as retaliation against her support for girls’ education. (AAP)

The shooting of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai has brought much-needed attention to the plight of women living under a misogynistic Taliban regime, writes Swati Parashar.

 By Swati Parashar, Monash University

One Pakistani teenage girl is back where she belongs: in school. But Malala Yousafzai, who was shot last year for campaigning for female education by the Taliban, is not your average school girl.

Already in her short life she has been courageous against all odds. And her journey has come to symbolise the plight of women seeking education in some of the most dangerous regions in the world.

But with Malala set to get the education she struggled to obtain in her homeland, it’s important to also look at how the future may be looking for other women back home in the border regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A dangerous education

Malala came to worldwide attention late last year when she was attacked by a Taliban gunman who, after identifying her, shot her at close range. She was critically wounded but eventually flown to Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital for specialist treatment for skull reconstruction.

The Taliban had orchestrated the attack after threatening her and her father Ziauddin to stop their support for the Western agenda of “secular” education for girls.

After nearly five months of treatment in the UK in which she has had a titanium plate and cochlear implant fitted, Malala was discharged from the hospital in February this year. And last week started at the Edgbaston High School for girls in Birmingham as a Year 9 student.

The Taliban’s record

Malala’s story represents resistance, particularly against the pernicious and misogynistic demands of Islamist extremism and militarisation.

That a teenage school girl wanting an education can appear as a “threat” to a militant group says plenty. The Taliban forces operating in the Swat Valley have relentlessly attacked education which they perceive as a Western secular influence that is against Islamic Shariah laws.

 

Malala recovering in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham after being shot by the Taliban. EPA/University Hospitals Birmingham

 

According to one estimate, out of 1,576 schools in Swat, the Taliban destroyed 401 of them between 2001 and 2009. 70% of the destroyed schools were girls’ schools.

The militancy in the North West Khyber area of Pakistan has deprived 600,000 children from receiving education, with girls suffering the most. The literacy gapbetween girls and boys in appallingly high. Acid attacks, sexual abuse and early marriages of girls has compounded in the years since the militancy in the region.

Not only do girls like Malala face these challenges from the Taliban, but the Pakistani government’s record on education is also a matter of great concern.

Government spending on education is less than 3% of GDP – among the lowest in the world. This is in contrast to the high budget allocation for army and defence which has been criticised by Pakistan’s public intellectuals.

Negotiating with terrorists

The attack on Malala should at least make us understand that any compromise or peace deal with the Taliban, which is being considered a policy option in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, will seriously undermine women’s rights in the region.

In Afghanistan, president Hamid Karzai will soon hold talks with the Taliban in Qatar. While Pakistan has always tried to broker deals with the Taliban.

Foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani just recently stated that Pakistan “will accommodate any entity that will be helpful in making the [peace] process successful.”

And in the past, under the “peace for Shariah” deal between the Government and one of the militant groups in the region, Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), the Taliban was expected to surrender its arms in exchange for the legal enforcement of Shariah laws (although this deal eventually collapsed when both sides refused to cease attacks).

Any peace talks then must be able to guarantee women’s rights and freedoms, or the Taliban’s version of Shariah will only entrench the “war on women” further.

Pakistan’s conscience

This situation is likely only to become more difficult after foreign troops withdraw in 2014.

Many Afghani (and Pakistani) women from the conflict areas have expressed their concerns about what will happen and how any negotiations with the Taliban will reverse the trend of women’s increasing political participation, as well as access to education, jobs and public spaces.

Malala Yousafzai is the conscience of the women in the conflict areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Her story should serve as a reminder that ideological wars have a deeply misogynistic rhetoric.

They are not only about control of territory and political power but also about control over women’s bodies and denying them freedom and rights.

Peace talks which do not foreground women’s issues and which do not have women representatives should be rejected. They have no place in a modern society, the premise of which should be gender justice and equality for all women and minorities.

Swati Parashar does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation

THE CONVERSATION MALALA YOUSAFZAI TALIBAN

Source – World News Australia

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Terrorists attack CRPF camp in Srinagar: 5 jawans, two militants killed; 7 injured

Posted by :) on March 13, 2013

 Ref – HT and PTI Agencies
Srinagar, March 13, 2013 
First Published: 11:28 IST(13/3/2013)
Last Updated: 15:26 IST(13/3/2013)

CRPF personnel carry away a fallen comrade on a stretcher. AFP/Tauseef Mustafa

In the first suicide attack in Kashmir in three years, militants on Wednesday stormed a CRPF camp in Bemina area of Srinagar, killing five jawans and injuring seven others. The two militants, who carried out the attack, were also killed. “Five jawans have been martyred and seven   have been injured,” a senior police officer told reporters at the spot. 

He said it was not clear whether there were two or three militants who hurled grenades and opened indiscriminate firing at the CRPF camp.

“Two fidayeen (suicide militants) were neutralised and searches are going on,” the officer said.

Policemen move the body of an alleged militant following an attack at a CRPF camp in Srinagar. AFP PHOTO

He said the group affiliation and identity of the militants killed in the incident was a matter of investigation.

The CRPF camp at Bemina is surrounded by the Police Public School and many government buildings.

However, the school was closed due to strike called by separatists in support of their demand for return of mortal remains of Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guru.

CRPF personnel carry their injured colleague to a hospital during a gunfight with terrorists in Srinagar. REUTERS

This is the first suicide attack in Kashmir in the last three years with the last such incident taking place in January 2010.

No militant outfit has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

On March 2, militants had shot dead two policemen in Handwara area of Kupwara district.

“Initial reports say that five CRPF men have lost their lives. The two attackers were also killed in the attack,” Sheeri said.

The official said that it was yet to be confirmed whether it was a suicide attack, or gunmen directly stormed the camp firing bullets and grenades.

The chief minister said four to five CRPF jawans were injured in the attack.

Policemen secure the area after a gun battle with terrorists in Srinagar. AP Photo

“Besides three civilians were also injured– they had splinter injuries and they have been hospitalised”, he said, replying to the issue raised by members Balwant Singh Mankotia and Irfan Shah in the Legislative Assembly.

“It was a fidayeen attack– both the militants involved in the attack have been killed — the attack has been neutralised”, Omar said.

(With HT, PTI inputs)

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