Jan 20, 2009 - Uncategorized    46 Comments

Militants target girls’ schools yet again

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has written this letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education calling for an intervention in this case in Pakistan. The federal and provincial governments are not doing much beyond making sure that their coalition governments would not crumble down, women education be damned.

Those of who want to register their protest at this can go to this link and send out letters to the President, Prime Minister and concerned officials through AHRC’s urgent appeals system.

Here is the text of the letter, I have not added a single word.

Militants operating in Swat have threatened to blow-up all female schools if they are not closed by January 15, 2009 and have already started demolishing the schools. It is reported that the militants belong to Islamic fundamentalist organisations operating in Pakistan with their connections stretching across the border, into neighboring Afghanistan.

After the expiry of the deadline fixed by the militants, they have already blown-up six girls’ schools. During the year 2008 the fundamentalists, particularly the Taliban, have demolished 200 primary girls’ schools and around three dozen boys’ schools in different areas in the north of Pakistan, close to the border with Afghanistan.

According to the Aryana Institute of Regional Research and Advocacy, an organization based in Pakistan, the threat from the militant and fundamentalist organisations will deny an estimated 119,000 female students their fundamental right to education. Additionally it will also render an estimated 3,425 women teachers jobless.

The threat against educating the girl child and the destruction of schools come in the backdrop of a series of crimes committed with impunity by these militant organisations in the past several years in Pakistan. Man-slaughter, murders by beheading, land grabbing, social ostracism and extortion in the name of Islam are common incidents in some provinces of Pakistan like the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) and the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) during the last several years.

It is also a common practice that these acts committed by the Islamic fundamentalist organisations are later sanctified by the tribal courts active in these regions called the Jirgas. Jirgas are notorious for their brutality and the misinterpretation of the Quran. Owing to this, and due to the complete absence of a properly functioning state apparatus in these regions, the ordinary people residing in these areas feel that they are under the siege of the militant groups. The majority of people feels besieged and shares a common feeling of abandonment by their country and the world.

The destruction or the closing down of the schools will deprive thousands of children of the Swat valley of NWFP, of their right to education. The abuse against the children and their families by the Islamic fundamentalists is also an act of denying their right to dignity, honor and peace of mind. The Government of Pakistan has thus far failed to provide any form of protection to the children and their families. In fact state agencies like the Pakistan Army has made use of the fear spread by Islamic militants in the region for their benefit.

It is also reported that in the past, state intelligence agencies and the army were involved in nurturing Islamic militant organisations in the region to fit the Government of Pakistan’s interest in the region’s politics. The nexus between the militants and the state agencies was close-knit particularly during the Afghan war. This relationship flourished further after the initiation of the so-called war against terror.

The change of political regime in Islamabad, from a dictatorship to a democracy, has made no dents to this illegal and dangerous relationship. This has left the people in high desperation concerning their life which continues at the mercy of Islamic militant organizations operating in these regions. The girls and their parents suffer the most due to this impasse.

I therefore urge you to provide immediate protection for the children and their families and take whatever actions in your capacity in order to secure their right to education.


What used to be a thriving school has now turned into ashes, dust and rubble …

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46 Comments

  • What hurts me is that apart from a minority, no one is speaking up against these horrendous crimes in the media. Everyone feels that the national integrity is at stake because of the American attacks on the border. While i condemn those too, i believe that the Taliban are more dangerous issue, and our response as a nation is inadequate. Instead of condemning them, alot of people actually defend the Taliban! I don’t know people are under what sort of religious mesmerism that they are willing to support any group who proclaims to implement ‘shariat’ regardless of how violent and brutal their actions are, and how misguided their ideology is. It frustrates the hell out of.

  • I think media should make a hype as like they created in lawyer’s movement and there should be awareness in general public about the severity of the plight of female students.I donot know why are we so selfish, why donot we yell until the fire gets to our house.

  • What I don’t understand is that why are fundamentalists so afraid of girls being equal?

  • Zoobee has the right question!
    I agree and what are those fundamentals that the rest of educated world,also don’t understand.

  • I disagree that no one is speaking against it, as far as media is concerned. Bloggers are now part of the media, internationally more so than here but they are a part of it in Pakistan as well.

    The point is though our reach in the areas where these crimes against humanity are taking place is very limited. I do not think the zealots will stop until their own womenfolk teach them a lesson and demand their rights according to their religion.

  • Thanks Tazeen. I have now provided a link to this item on my blog.

  • @Tazeen,

    Its all quite simple. Black and white really.

    They burn the schools and kill people because they hate freedom.

    Bush was right!

    O

  • i have nothing more to say only now that the taliban or who ever the geniuses are, are done with blowing up almost all the schools here…they should challenge themselves a bit more and take flight towards europe and other successful continents and blow up schools there too..

    referring to some comments made here…they are not afraid of girls being equal..they have nothing else to do..only if they try to read Quran would they understand..

  • Oh, that is so sad. After all the hard work people have put in to fight for educational rights for women, you see this happening. 🙁

  • We sent our team to Swat Yesterday, have been recieving footage of all the destruction snce.
    Taliban have also imposed a Ban on women seeking medical facilities unless they are accompanied by adult male mehrams. The men are no longer allowed to shave. It is like Afghanistan all over again.
    What I dont understand is, howcome they are so obsessed with such things.
    Do you remember how they imposed a ban on women buying cucumbers and goats roaming aroun uncovered in Iraq? I wonder how long will it take to get to such extremes in Swat.

  • Another question is reading blogs the only way that I actually hear about these things in Canada…

    @O:
    I know you were being sarcastic with you’re whole “they hate freedom” business… But I think you may have put your finger on it in a strange way.

    The people burning schools do hate freedom, they hate that women might develop a thought process that would lead to them eventually questioning the semi-servitude that they are currently being placed under.

    Ask any woman in the area if they are happy that their daughters can’t go to school, that they can’t see a doctor without their husbands or that they can’t shop anymore. I’m sure that the response will be overwhelmingly negative. Unless they’re too afraid to speak up or to brainwashed to care.

  • @Muchacho,

    So Bush was right hunh?

    How many schools were burnt in the 70s, 80s and 90s I wonder?

    The question you should ask yourself is why now. Israel uses the same policy blinders when they talk about the Palestinians. Never ever questioning why.

    O

  • The ever-changing power equations in Pakistan notwithstanding, I think this is one topic which is at serious risk of being brushed under the carpet……

  • These zealots just want the people ignorant so that they can control them! As a woman and as an educator, I find these people disgusting! By depriving girls, future mothers, their right to education, they are securing the ignorance of generations upon generations of people!

    Fundamentalists really are twisted!!!

  • this is so scary, it really feels like some other century, And isn’t there a lot of media on this issue? I mean, if something even remotely close to this happens in India, the media are all over it…

  • Scary times we live in!!
    And I do ask the same question Zoobee did?
    Why is it such a crime to study? why the insecurity?

  • Hallo Tazeen,

    Pakistan could apply to be entered in the “Guiness Book of Records”, bracket “de-schooling” or something totally new like “fastest way back to Neanderthal”.

    I am quite sure your country is in a “stand-alone-situation”.

    We have here a kind of proverb saying “in the long run, the people have always the government they deserve”. Meaning, these schools would not be destroyed if a great number of citizen would not be supportive. Otherwise, there would be a public outcry and the police would come and take the de-schoolers into a lunatic asylum, pronto.

    Georg

  • i think they bomb girls schools cause they know the boys dont go to their schools!
    And i think they bomb schools cause they really believe schools are for fools… 🙁

  • “How many schools were burnt in the 70s, 80s and 90s I wonder?”

    Here we go again with the moronic way of judging stupendous behavior.

    Moron O – whether or not any schools were burnt in the past, the fact still remains, it is wrong to burn schools.

    Aside your asinine insistence NOTHING justifies harming of the innocent. Two wrongs do not make a right.

    -Zoobee

  • “why now?”

    Here’s why:

    Chickens, Islamic extremism encouraged by Zia/Nawaz to ensure western borders has backfired miserably, have come home to roost. All that American bombings did was push the shit back into Pakistan. Simple.

    -Zoobee

  • I wonder what will they do when their mother and daughter will fall ill, and their would be no lady doctor to treat them due to their present act of ignorance…….I won’t be surprised if they let them to die but would not allow a male doctor to touch them.

  • ” I wonder what will they do when their mother and daughter will fall ill, and their would be no lady doctor to treat them due to their present act of ignorance…….I won’t be surprised if they let them to die but would not allow a male doctor to touch them.”

    Uh huh? when it comes to their own, they will find ways to get male doctors to touch their women – like is the case with the most in Pakistan – what one preaches is not what one necessarily practice (and yes before someone’s chuddi begins itching, you can include GWB to the list as well).

    -Zoobee

  • This is pathetic but nothing new. Some men esp. in South Asia will go to any extend to chain women. As another commenter asked why the insecurity?

  • Dear Zobee,

    Thank you for your kind words, your upbringing shines through in your comments.

    When I asked the question regarding how many schools were burnt in the 70s, 80’s and 90s it was to get the reader to question why they are burnt today.

    How can anyone come to the conclusion that I advocate the burning of schools just because I asked the question why it is happening now.

    // — Chickens, Islamic extremism encouraged by Zia/Nawaz to ensure western borders has backfired miserably, have come home to roost. All that American bombings did was push the shit back into Pakistan. Simple. — //

    So while we encouraged them to guard our borders’ they built schools then when we bombed them they all of a sudden started burning them? Here is another question how come there were 200 schools to burn in the first place! How come schools were actually increasing during these times? How many government initiative regarding education took place in the 70s, 80s, and 90s?

    They were busy arming them and using them all this while the PEOPLE in the north themselves were building schools. Only when the bombing started did these people side with the extremist and started doing these things. You want to blame religion fine go ahead but you are only lying to yourself. This situation has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with politics.

    STOP the KILLING of our own PEOPLE!

    The situation is a little more complicated then they hate us because of our freedom.

    How old are you really?

    O

  • Interesting.

    So the people who are being killed in the North are OUR people but the Pakistani soldiers who are being butchered (literally) by these people are NOT our people.

    Rabia has a very pertinent post on her blog about this. She is of the opinion that everyone and their dog is certain that great injustice has been done to Aafia Siddiqui and is willing to protest for it. However when AHRC reports about the rape of Zarina Marri in Pakistani, no one takes up her cause because no one will get political mileage out of it.

    We will protest against those who are bombing children in Gaza but will not utter a word against those who are bombing schools and making living miserable for the children in our own country.

    HOW CONVENIENT?

    This is the link to Rabia’s post.

  • If our own so called leaders will just stick to protecting their own benefits & don’t protect their citizens then nothing can be expected from others even UN as in my point of view its just a dummy organization playing in the hands of the USA.

  • You know, Tazeen that’s one of the reasons that I wouldn’t really comment on the Gaza issue much and that was because we had the Kashmir issue.

    But I’ve realized that it’s not that we can only concentrate on one issue at a time. We’re faced with multiple issues and there are enough of us out there to take those issues to task.

    Of course, we need to clean up our neighbourhood before we go protesting about someone else’s and I totally agree with you in that aspect.

  • “They were busy arming them and using them all this while the PEOPLE in the north themselves were building schools. Only when the bombing started did these people side with the extremist and started doing these things. You want to blame religion fine go ahead but you are only lying to yourself. This situation has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with politics.”

    And here we go again – self deluded moronic-ness. Mommy, mommy, Zoobee’s blaming religion. Dear O, the moron extraordinaire, setting aside my manners and immaturity, which I blame on you though, after all my manners were fine up until I read your asinine words, indeed, tell me exactly how in the world did you manage to extract “blaming the religion” from what I wrote? Explain to me oh you educated know-it-all holier-than-thou god’s expired coupon to this earth? Please do tell.

    In the meantime, I am old enough to clearly remember the stinging feeling of tear gas that was fired by Punjab Police during riots against the ZA Bhutto in 1976…

    BTW, let’s stick to words, do yourself a favor, and worry not about my person/age/weight/sex/location etc. etc. worry instead about yourself, if you and when you find yourself taking time off from that victim complex of yours.

    Cheers!

    -Zoobee

  • “This situation has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with politics.”

    LOL! I am amazed by this show of apologist audacity – there in Swat we have Fatwas pouring out of every crevice – a parallel “Islamic” government has been set up for years – OTOH – the self deluded O is chirping about, in addition to trolling about asking around people’s age, looking for excuses to claim self-righteousness, “it’s not religion’s fault”…

    Anyhoo…

    -Zoobee

  • @Tazeen,

    You should apply for the Israeli spokesperson job.

    You draw parelles to the Gaza situation but fail to see that Israel is saying the same thing.

    They are attacking terrorist who are extermist. Which the Hamas are even according to you because they are religous and come with all the colorful interpetation on women that you don’t like.

    So how come everyone supports the Gazans?

    Chew on that.

    O

  • “with all the colorful interpetation on women that you don’t like”

    O,

    Do you think women/men should not be treated as equal citizens? Or, let’s try this, when do you think it’s okay to discriminate?

    Now on to Gaza, yeah do tell who is and is not supporting the Gazans, and why?

    -Zoobee

  • The Gaza/Israel situation has more to do with moral, political relativism than any discernible justice absent of bias.

    As to the original post, its deeply saddening to witness further cognitive dissonance and ethical divergence from core Islamic values coming from the very elements who claim to propagate the fundamental tenets that define the religion.

  • What can I say Tazeen I am shocked I couldn’t imagen something happening like it. Can I register my protest too? I tried the link but it doesn’t work. Let me know if that would help than I place a link on my blog
    Love marja

  • I tend to agree with Faisal that the issue has been highlighted in media but the irony is that our government shows indifference to this issue and hence the result can be witnessed by everyone. Since i visit different parts of NWFP and have seen the reality on the ground, i can easily claim that few districts are totally in their control. The list include Bannu, Kohat, Swat and even DI Khan to an extent. The government can only be seen operating in cantonment areas. Anyways we always believe that it can still be controlled but with a leadership that has the will and motivation to do it.

  • The thing that really irked me about this development was the government’s response – particularly when they announced they would vote on a resolution condemning this. The response sounded straight from the Team America movie, when Hans Blitz told Kim Jong Il that the UN was very very angry and “would write a letter, telling him how very very angry they were.”

    The response needs to be far more immediate and tangible than what has occurred so far. With the numerous schools that have been destroyed, how many have been replaced? Wouldn’t building a new one immediately send the signal that we are resilient and these militants aren’t winning? Wouldn’t releasing statements villifying these militants further help influence perceptions?

  • “Wouldn’t releasing statements villifying these militants further help influence perceptions?”

    You’d think? However, it’s the love of fellow Muslim brother that holds back the Muslim brother from publicly castigating other’s absurd behavior.

    In this case, a drone excursion is shouted down using the cloak of sovereignty of a nation, but, ignored is the ghastly destruction by labeling it as “an act of miscreants”. OTOH, as is the case with the misaligned educated class, the act of destruction of property is touted merely as a “told you so”.

    The classic tragedy of not standing up when needed is played over and over in Pakistan and perhaps rest of the Islamic world. We’re too busy drumming support for Sharia and Khilafat and what not, while ignoring a mass collection of skeletons in our closet. I guess it is always convenient to blame than is to accept the responsibility… All things after all are at the behest of “Allah ki marzi”

    -Zoobee

  • will protests bring an end to misery? i have signed plenty but now it is either we set out or we quit sitting and discussing

  • I got the link to work and signed up. I put it on my blog too. If you don’t like it or something has to be changed tell me please. Love Marja

  • How about we just incinerate the area and cough up the civilian casualties as collateral damage; necessary albeit tragic.

  • media and chaos are actually making a happily ever after. you need to get into the separation procedure to ensure some harmony on the ground.

  • Why do we always standup to defend Islam? Islam like any other religion has its faults and it is high time we owned up to them. Our support for madrassas and the sharia law is mind boggling. It is time we accepted the fact that madrassas are nothing more than a front for Islamic terror, filling innocent minds with unimaginable hate and intolerance for an alternate way of life. We blame the west for all the ills in Pakistan yet for 50 years after 1947 we had been take care of by USA. Zia created this ultimate monster called taliban and we were cheering them when they were killing “kafirs”. But hey now that they are pushing guns up our behinds we want democracy. But wait still there are people, in NY too!!, who defend taliban and the freaking khilafat, a muslim utopia. Are they blind to what intolerance for other cultures can do to your own men and women?????

  • I was just telling my sister yesterady, that a womans life is a hard one…most of the women around the world have to deal with so much shit on a daily basis…

    And what have men given us? Nothing but heartache and wars and destruction. This is a generalisation, but I find it to be true.

    They say that men are the stronger sex, I’d have to say the women are stronger especially for all the crap we have to go through because of stupid men.

  • this is really, really terrible. religion must not be used as an excuse for such disgraceful acts.

  • I’ve signed the letter 🙂

  • Why they hate girls education u ask, b/c they hate progress! They hate freedom! They hate anyone else has a brain of his/her. They want zombies. Its easier to rule fools right. And who is the soft target? Girls! It saddens the hell out of any progressive civilized person. But what saddens more is the fact that no educated, moderate Muslim has taken to street, on any part of the world to condemn it or stop it! The middle class educated Muslim who are respected all around the world have not uttered a word to grab attention and I dont mean blogs. If this thing continues for few more years then I am afraid people will blur the difference between extreme muslim and moderate muslim and unfortunately all will be measured with same yardstick! Its sad but true. I know people who are scared of even moderate muslims because of this very thing and everyone has one regret, why dont they protest! Youth is the future. Do something before its too late.

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