Militancy and condition of Women in Pashtun region including FATA
Militancy and condition of women
By Zar Ali Khan Musazai
Militancy in Pashtun region (FATA+Province) seems not to come to an end soon. There are reasons that one will find that inhabitants of the area in question are like hostages by terrorist and religious extremists busy doing destructive activities in region who have been supported by state agencies for last many years and my statement in this regard is supported by the incumbent president of Pakistan Mr. Asif Ali Ali Zardari who few days back had said that the militants are the product of Pakistan and were actively funded, trained and equipped by the state Agencies of Pakistan to fight against India. One will wonder as to why militants are busy in subversive in Pashtun areas including FATA. This is very simple. When militants in 2001 were toppled by the allied forces in Kabul, Afghanistan the militants ran away towards FATA which is situated in the south-east of Afghanistan and took shelter there with support of the Pakistani Agencies where they formed their own Islamic Emirate and started teasing and tormenting the local population. Most of them married there with local women without the consent of women and such girls were got married to militants due to fear and duress.
Taliban or religious militants are today controlling about 90% of region (Pashtun areas including Province of NWFP and FATA) where the women are suffered more heavily than the others. The disastrous consequences of the decades of civil wars and armed conflicts in Pashtun areas including FATA have weighted heavily on women of the region. While the battles of death are played out by men, women have responsibility for battle of life through years of fighting, destruction and displacement; Pashtun women have struggled to support and sustain their families. Injury, death and loss of family breadwinners have forced women into assuming a greater role in providing for their dependents, a role which has become increasingly more difficult as war and conflicts have impoverished the province and adversely affected socio-economic development in all areas even those far removed from frontline fighting. Indiscriminate bombing in FATA, Swat, Buner and Dir by both the extremist Taliban and security forces have caused heavy loss of humanity and casualties of women and children are innumerable. In addition to conflict zones women have been subjected to gender specific human rights abuses, such as rape and sexual assault, forced marriage and prostitution.
Restrictions placed on women by the Taliban in FATA, Swat, Buner, Mardan, Kohat, Dir, Buner and Peshawar
Complete ban on women working out side their homes, including teachers, doctors and engineers
Complete restriction on woman’s movement out side of their houses without a mahram (Father, brother or husband)
Ban on dealing with male shopkeepers.
Ban on being treated by a male doctors.
Ban on studying at school, university or any other educational institution
Compulsory wearing of a long veil (Shuttle cock) which covers women from head to toe.
Whipping, beating and verbal abuse of women whose Burqa is not worn in accordance with Taliban rules. The same applies to women found in public without a mahram(Recently a young girl of 17 was flogged by the Taliban for going out her home with father in law, though the real story was that she rejected the proposal of a militant Talib to marry)
Ban on listening to music not for women but for men as well. Women have been leading a difficult and miserable life and are worried about their life and siblings. One woman was so terrified by the bombing of the security forces few days back in Dir that she forgot her one year child in cradle and left for Peshawar where she recalled that her sibling was left behind. The condition of women in our community is so horrific that one who has heart will shed tear hearing their sorrowful news and watching their miseries. We are willing to work in this sector and the mission of our organization is to develop the miserable condition of women folk and youth of our community.
It is very interesting and nice to hear that there are groups around the world working for the welfare of women but as for as Pashtun women (FATA) are concerned they leading a life which is below humanity and are treated badly not only by the male members of their community but by militants as well who have the state and intelligence agencies support in Pakistan. Today our Pashtun region is engulfed by the terrorists and the first attack of militants and terrorists is on women. They tell the innocent people that only women are responsible for entire mess in area. Women should remain in houses and have no right to come out of their homes, the militants and extremists in region advise people. This is a pre-planned conspiracy against our people to be taken away to the medieval age by terrorists’ religious militants who have no program for social change and development except few wrong and out dated stories of the past Arabian Peninsula.
Zar Ali Khan Musazai
(The writer is a political and social worker based in Peshawar-Pakistan and can be reached on his email firstname.lastname@example.org, +92-301-5963337