There are two major planks to Salam’s argument, and they will ring familiar to anyone who lived in the immediate post-9/11 world: that America must have an aggressive and powerful army, first because our strength is required to bring stability to a vulnerable world, and second because there is so much evil in the world, we are required to defeat it. These are not, let’s say, the freshest of arguments when it comes to the defense of neoconservatism. But since he’s brought them back up, they should be addressed.
In essence, both arguments can be refuted with three words: should implies can. For the argument towards stability, I ask simply: we have endured a war in Iraq, we still have thousands of troops in Afghanistan, we have waged secret wars in Pakistan and Yemen. I ask you: how stable do you find the world? How stable was the world at the height of the Bush Doctrine? What possible evidence can be offered that neoconservatism brings stability in fact, rather than merely in rhetoric?
Nor is it clear that the enduring American military dominance Salam advocates for can be achieved. I would certainly oppose American military hegemony even if I thought such a thing were still possible, but it’s irrelevant, because I don’t. To quote Matthew Yglesias, relative decline is not a choice. That the United States cannot maintain its status as unipolar power forever should be obvious to anyone who has studied history and anyone with a newspaper subscription. The rapidly developing economies and massive populations of countries like China and India make that plain enough. That’s not to say that there will necessarily be a new dominant superpower, but it’s a reason you should bet on the field.
Saudi Arabia is not the go-to country when you think of atheism, being one of the world’s most repressive Islamic societies. Turns out we may have them pegged all wrong. A 2012 Gallup poll revealed that there is a similar proportion of atheists in Saudi Arabia as in the United States and parts of Europe, and what’s more, those atheists are being increasingly vocal, despite the threat of violence against them.
When Saudi Arabia issued a decree criminalizing the practice of atheism this month, it sparked a blasphemous campaign in response. The hashtag #CampaigntoTearTheQuraninSaudiArabia was tweeted more than 7,800 times in the span of a week, circulating images of protest.
Desecration of the Quran is one of the most extreme acts of blasphemy that a Muslim can perpetrate and has been a trigger for violent reactions around the world. Several days ago, an angry mob burned a Hindu temple in Pakistan to the ground after rumors circulated that a Quran had been desecrated by one of its members.
This came days after the government suspended talks with the group following execution style killings of 23 captive soldiers.
The air strikes were carried out after protracted consultations between the military leadership after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “The decision over the attacks on militant hideouts in North Waziristan was made after three consecutive days of meetings between the government and military leadership,” an official in the PM office said. “It was the only option to teach the Taliban a lesson.”
Earlier, the 70-year-old ex-president was brought to the court from a military hospital in Rawalpindi in a heavily-protected convoy. He sat in witness box and stood briefly when addressed by the judge. But Musharraf did not speak.
When Justice Arab asked him how he was feeling, he replied with a smile on his face that he was “good”. He remained in the court for 20 minutes and was taken back to the hospital, where he was admitted on January 3 after complaining of chest pain while traveling to the court for hearing.
The trial against Musharraf is related to his suspension, abrogation and subversion of the constitution after imposition of emergency rule in November 2007.
“Central to Pakistan’s struggles is its poor economy and burgeoning “youth bulge.” Given these conditions, radicalism is on the rise in settled areas and threatens increased militant activity and insurgency in parts of Pakistan where the sway of the state traditionally has been the strongest,”
Rape has long plagued the women of Pakistan. In a country where it is estimated less than four percent of rape cases result in conviction, it has become more than sex. Rape has become a tool of power, leaving its victims vulnerable in a world that resembles state sanctioned misogyny and oppression. From forensics to judicial safeguards, political perspectives to cultural misnomers, it leaves women powerless in one of the most populous countries on earth.
With protections continually being stripped, it is both important and difficult to unspin the entire ball of thread that is sexual assault, power, and religion in Pakistan.
A brief history of rape in Pakistan :
Rape, and other forms of sexual assault and abuse have been an intrinsic part of Pakistan’s history, stemming from the violent convulsions of the region that resulted in partition:
“Right before partition took place in August 1947, there were what we now know as the “Rape of Rawalpindi,” where Sikh and Hindu women killed their baby girls and then threw themselves into wells to avoid further “dishonor” or being raped. Women were bartered for the safety of families and some were killed by their kin, again, to protect the ‘honor’ of the family. During the Bangladesh Liberation War, more than two hundred thousand Bengali women and girls were sexually assaulted by the Pakistan Army and the religious militias.”
As if to highlight this is about power and politics and not sex :
“The rape of Muslim women by Hindu males during this period is well documented, with women also being complicit in these attacks. As was the rape of Hindu and Sikh women by Muslim males”
Yet, rape remains a contradictory nexus of shame and dominance:
It’s not hard to find veterans of the partition violence who admit sometimes with remorse, sometimes with an obscene pride that, yes, they rioted, and perhaps even killed. No one will admit to rape. Yet in 1947, there were tens of thousands of rapists Hindu, Muslim and Sikh exacting what they saw as communal vengeance, or taking advantage of the breakdown of order to brutalise and humiliate women.
The human cost during, and after partition, was severe:
Sheila Sen Gupta witnessed something of the agony of the women victims of partition when she worked with Mridula Sarabhai in locating and exchanging women who had been abducted. Khorshed Mehta served as a medical welfare worker in 1947, meeting the refugee trains as they arrived from Punjab at Old Delhi Station. She reckons that almost half the women she helped as they arrived, near destitute, had been assaulted.
Again, during the Bangladesh Liberation War:
….it is estimated that between 200,000 and 400,000 women and girls were sexually assaulted by the Pakistan armed forces and the Al-Badr (“the moon”) and the Al-Shams (“the sun”) militias that supported them.
Which of course carries a high human price :
The rapes caused thousands of pregnancies, births of war babies, abortions, incidents of infanticide and suicide, and, in addition, led to ostracisation of the victims. Recognised as one of the major occurrences of wartime rape anywhere, the atrocities ended after armed forces from neighbouring India intervened. Initially India claimed its intervention was on humanitarian grounds, but after the UN rejected this argument, India claimed intervention was needed to protect its own security, and it is now widely seen as a humanitarian move.
In 1979 Pakistan passed into law the Hudood Ordinance, which made all forms of extra-marital sex, including rape, a crime against the state. It also began, many activists say, thirty years of a nexus between the state and sexual crimes as a means to keep a geocentrically male ordered Koranic society. In 2006, Pakistan passed “The Protection of Women Bill” which sought to fix the perceived problems inherent in the Hudood Ordinance.
Between 1979 and 2006, rape was lumped together with laws criminalizing zina - extra marital sex and adultery - all of which carried a potential punishment of stoning to death if four male witnesses to the crime could be furnished. Without witnesses, rape and zina could be tried as lesser offenses under the criminal code, but police were often untrained and unwilling to collect forensic evidence that would prove force was used. Unable to prove their allegations, women were then often charged with zina based on their admission that they had had intercourse. While top courts threw almost all of the cases out on appeal, rights groups claimed thousands of women languished in prison for years awaiting the final verdicts.
In 2006, rape was moved back to the criminal code, to be prosecuted based on forensic evidence, and the practice of pursuing zina cases against women who could not prove rape was specifically prohibited.
Pakistan claims this has solved much of the issue, and that hysteria and profit are behind claims to the anterior, but i am not so sure.
“A report presented to the Senate last October said 10,703 rape cases were registered in Pakistan since 2009. According to War Against Rape (WAR), a Karachi-based NGO, less than four percent of Pakistan’s rape cases result in a conviction.”
rape is an even larger problem for women in captivity :
” Asma Jahangir, a lawyer and co-founder of the women’s rights group Women’s Action Forum, reported in a 1988 study of female detainees in Punjab that around 72 percent of them stated they had been sexually abused while in custody.
for female ‘bonded laborers:
“While bonded Labour exists throughout Sindh Province, the majority of those bonded in the north belong to the Muslim majority, while most of the bonded agricultural labourers in southern Sindh Province belong to dalit 2 (untouchable) and to tribal communities who have migrated from the drought-prone area of Tharparkar desert. Poverty and starvation have forced these communities to accept the landlords’ cash advances, and to be available for work from dawn to dusk. Bonded labourers may be detained or guarded to stop them escaping and in these situations of total ownership rape of women is not uncommon.”
And, of course, children :
In a study of child sexual abuse in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, out of a sample of 300 children 17% claimed to have been abused and in 1997 one child a day was reported as raped, gang raped or kidnapped for sexual gratification.
Pakistan’s justice problems are not necessarily restricted to rape and violence against women and minorities :
“Violent crime goes largely unpunished in Pakistan - even cases tried in special anti-terrorism courts net only an 18 percent conviction rate “
“… in the case of rape, a host of problems keeps the conviction rate in the single digits. Those include a lack of resources for DNA analysis, a dearth of female medical examiners, and a reluctance of victims to come forward. “
one reason victims may feel reluctant to come forward:
WAR is an NGO whose mission is to publicize the problem of rape in Pakistan; in a report released in 1992, of 60 reported cases of rape, 20% involved police officers.
and of course, misogyny :
“One senior police official told a delegation of local human rights activists that “in 95 percent of the cases the women themselves are at fault.”
And, while misogyny is a driving force, there are other, namely regional and cultural issues, at play:
“In our society, prosecutors and police think a crime is something to be settled among the parties.”
“Over the last five years, Karachi authorities conducted 1,482 medical examinations of suspected sexual assault victims, but only registered 387 cases. By law, police are required to always register cases.”
“This attitude is reflected in the way police handle cases of rape brought by a woman. We found that police routinely refuse to register such complaints, particularly if the complaint is lodged against a fellow officer. We also found that police officers often illegally detain women in police lock-up for days at a time without formally registering a charge against them or producing them before a magistrate within the required 24-hour period. Women can thus be held indefinitely without the knowledge of the courts. It is during these periods of “invisibility” that most sexual abuse of female detainees occurs.”
Very recently, DNA has become an area of heightened tensions within the general debate on rape and justice :
Until now, police have relied heavily on DNA tests to determine cases of rape. The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), however, has declared that DNA tests are not admissible as the main evidence in rape cases.
In a meeting of the council on Wednesday, religious scholars observed that while the tool could aid investigation into rape complaints, it could not be taken as evidence. It could, at best, serve as supplementary evidence but could not supersede the Islamic laws laid out for determining rape complaints.”
Aitazaz Hassan Bangash is definitely a hero, and I hope he is honored for sacrificing his life to save the lives of others.
(CNN) — A 14-year-old boy is being hailed as a hero in Pakistan for tackling a suicide bomber — dying at the main gate of his school and saving schoolmates gathered for their morning assembly.
Ninth-grader Aitazaz Hassan Bangash was on his way to the Ibrahimzai School on Monday in the Hangu district of northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province when the bomber, dressed in a school uniform, asked him where the school was, the teen’s cousin told CNN.
A post from a wingnut blog called “Freedom Outpost” has been making the rounds in Wingnutistan, where news that the Obama Administration has decided to release $1.6 billion in economic and military aid to Pakistan is being interpreted as the Obama Administration aiding the Taliban.
The funny (and typical) thing is, there is no link to any news story which even remotely suggests this, and the video below - embedded in the blog post - says the aid is being sent to Pakistan, not the Taliban - although the video does provide grist for the wingnut mill by saying that Osama bin Laden was “allegedly” killed.
Follow the logic:
OBAMA’S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD ADMINISTRATION IS “QUIETLY” RELEASING $1.6 BILLION TO AID THE TALIBAN IN PAKISTAN UNDER THE GUISE OF AN “IMPROVED” RELATIONSHIP WITH THE COUNTRY WHICH IS HEADED BY A MERE PUPPET IN PRIME MINISTER NAWAZ SHARIF THIS IS NOTHING MORE THAN GIVING THE MONEY DIRECTLY TO THE ISLAMIC TERRORISTS IN SEPTEMBER A CHURCH BOMBING KILLED NEARLY 100 PEOPLE, AND SCORES OF TERRORISTS ATTACKS HAVE OCCURRED RECENTLY IN THE COUNTRY THIS MEANS ONE THING OBAMA IS OPENLY AIDING THE ENEMIES OF AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!11TY
Not even Pamela Geller has blogged about this…yet anyway.
To get a feel out just how loony “Freedom Outpost” is, popular threads discuss Steve Stockman’s articles of impeachment, another story about “black mob violence” against whites, and a call for secession…
Freedom Outpost? More like Free-dumb Outpost…
In a golden moment in Pakistan’s chequered 66-year political history, President Asif Ali Zardari today left the presidency after successfully completing his five-year term, paving the way for India-born Mamnoon Hussain to take over.
Zardari is the first elected President to complete his constitutional tenure and to be replaced by an elected individual in Pakistan’s history that has witnessed numerous military coups.
He was given a guard of honour, which was not attended by either the Prime Minister or the three service chiefs.
However, Sharif had hosted an official farewell lunch for Zardari earlier this week and praised him for keeping the flag of democracy flying in the country.
Zardari, 58, left for Lahore where he is expected to spend his days working on the revival of his Pakistan Peoples Party which was dealt a crushing defeat in the May 11 general election.
In the past seven days, we’ve seen a major terror attack on Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad Iraq where 500 prisoners, including senior members of al Qaeda were freed by terrorists, and now we’ve got reports of a major attack on a prison complex in Pakistan has meant several hundred more terrorists and Taliban have been freed.
Pakistani Taliban disguised as policemen attacked a prison in the country’s northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan, freeing more than 300 prisoners late on Monday.
The jail officials said that several of the prisoners, four security personnel and two assailants were killed in the attack. The prison was housing at least 5000 prisoners, 250 of them hardcore militants.
Malik Qasim Khattak, advisor to the ministry of prisons, said that around 50 to 60 gunmen attacked the jail with bombs and guns before entering into the detention facility. “They detonated about 60 bombs inside the facility which caused the collapse of prison wall. The assailants succeeded in freeing more than 300 prisoners,” Khattak said, adding that the militants blew up two electricity transformers which created complete darkness.
While accepting responsibility for the attack, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had claimed that their attackers had freed around 300 inmates.
Bill Roggio indicates at least 30 of those escapees were hardcore militants. Roggio further indicates those responsible are the Ansar al Aseer, a joint Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan unit that has been designated to free imprisoned jihadists.
At the time of the attack on Abu Ghraib (now called the Baghdad Central Prison), I warned that those freed would not only rejoin the insurgency in Iraq, but could spread across the region causing mayhem in Syria’s civil war, or spark violence in Jordan, Egypt, or Turkey.
Now, we’ve got a second high profile incident involving attacks on detention facilities where high value al Qaeda and/or Taliban prisoners have been held - in a single week.
That doesn’t just happen out of thin air, though this is not the first time that the Taliban have attempted attacks on detention facilities with the goal of freeing Taliban/ and/or al Qaeda leadership. It’s part of a long term trend to bolster their numbers by taking on a major offensive. High profile attacks against detention facilities would do the trick.
The breakout in Pakistan means that terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the frontier provinces that are nominally under Pakistani control are likely to be emboldened to carry on further attacks, including against detention facilities. They may also seek out attacks against the ISAF in Afghanistan, the supply lines, as well as India. This doesn’t bode well for those countries as the terrorist attacks have largely resulted in significant civilian casualties.