Friday, April 22, 2011

Two Stories From Pakistan

We noticed two stories from Pakistan running side-by-side in today's Kaplan Daily. One dealt with the growing split between the U.S. military and the Pakistani military over strategy in dealing with al Qaeda and their allies, the Haqqani network in Pakistan. The other story dealt with the Pakistani Supreme Court siding with 5 accused rapists, who were charged with raping a woman in 2002 on orders from their tribal council.

In different ways, the stories illustrate the dilemma in dealing with erstwhile ally Pakistan. Pakistan doesn't see the Haqqani network and al Qaeda as their foremost adversary: that would be India. Fearing "encirclement" by India if Afghan extremists are defeated by a pro-Indian government in Afghanistan, the Pakistanis are seen as less than cooperative in rooting out extremists on their own territory. We're fighting an enemy, just not the same one. That's not likely to change.

The rape case is a more immediate story of women's status in that country of medieval tribal cultures. The Pakistani Supreme Court chose not to believe that Mukhtar Mai was raped out of retaliation for her younger brother's romance with a woman from a more powerful tribe. As if a Muslim woman would come forth in a culture where being raped makes you a non-person and make that story up. It shows just how differently countries value women's rights and their basic humanity.

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