Muhammad Idrees Ahmad writes: For advocacy to be successful, it has to come from a place of empathy rather than superiority. Many of the most vocal advocates of women’s rights in Pakistan today are also known for their sanguine views on the “war on terror.” It is, therefore, doubtful that their new self-image as the deliverers of women from patriarchal tyranny will gain much purchase among the sufferers.
Women have doubtless borne the brunt of the dislocation and insecurity occasioned by the “war on terror.” But, to treat women’s rights in isolation from the general malaise merely serves to put the concern under a pall of suspicion. This is because women’s rights have been long used as a pretext for imperial aggression. Far from bringing relief, their invocation—especially by the apologists for war—merely helps obscurantist criminals, like the TTP, elevate misogyny to anti-imperial expression.
The situation in Pakistan’s troubled northwest is no doubt ugly. From the indiscriminate violence of the Taliban, the gratuitous butchery of sectarian criminals, the bombing of girls’ schools, the targeting of children, to the threats against the media, it is a predicament that is begging for a visionary political solution.
The Pakistani government, it seems however, will not provide that. Under pressure from foreign allies and cheered on by home-grown pugilists, the government has repeatedly opted for half-hearted military solutions which, given its limited resources and ill-defined goals, inevitably descend into collective punishment and extra-judicial killing. The confused and often indiscriminate nature of these operations has swelled the ranks of the very enemy the state is out to destroy. If war for Clausewitz was politics by other means; in Pakistan, it has become a substitute for politics. [Continue reading…]