Mehsud, two Afghan women and the West

I often find the Western media’s hurry in pronouncing the end of a movement when one of their leaders is dead rather juvenile. Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a drone attack, but it is not the end of the Taliban. He became a prominent figure only a few years ago.

It is another matter that he had become one of the most dangerous terrorists. He did kill people, mostly his own. But he managed to organise a large enough contingent to be threatening to the US, to Pakistan and to Afghanistan.

He was a visible villain because he was using religion.

4000 troops American were killed and 35,000 injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The United States has decorated only six officers. If its own soldiers do not matter much, would it really bother them that many many civilians in those countries were killed in their drone attacks and far fewer terrorists than they had gone to take care of?

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We know that Mehsud would most certainly not appreciate the fact that two women are running for the post of Afghanistan’s President in the elections to be held on August 20. That they announced their decision and plastered the walls with their pictures when he was alive is quite telling, and Waziristan is not too far from Afghanistan.

It will be interesting to see how Barack Obama handles this. Besides the sound bytes that will come from trained mouths and a few statements about ‘women’s empowerment’, the US will make sure that Hamid Karzai continues to wear the gilded crown of thorns.

Frozan Fana is an orthopaedic surgeon.

Shahla Ata is a lawyer.

She talks about “male cronyism and corruption” and says, “The people of Afghanistan are sick of this. Billions of dollars have been wasted. My grandchildren will get old before Karzai changes this, so the women should bring change.”

Interestingly, although both do not cover their face, which is considered mandatory, they have not mentioned religion as a constricting force.

An Associated Press report states that not all women support them:

The Movement of Afghan Sisters, a voting bloc of 16,000 women, backs Ashraf Ghani, a man who is also a long-shot but seems stronger on women’s rights, said Homaira Haqmal, the group’s founder. “Many of the female MPs today came through warlords or the political machine. They aren’t free to speak and they aren’t decision makers.”

Before we jump in to mutter, “Ah, I told you so,” think about all those more developed societies where women are merely flaunted as trophies and much effort is expended on what they wear and how they conduct themselves rather than any active part they take in the political process. Think about how Sarah Palin was ridiculed. Think about Aung San Suu Ki’s dilemma. Think about the cop-out of Hillary Clinton. Think about just how many women in decision-making posts are there among the big countries – US, UK, Germany, France, China, even Russia...

And if the report wants to get florid about Ms. Ata by informing the reader that she “wears bright pink nail polish, highlights her eyes with glitter”, then think about Madeleine Albright who said there was always makeup to fix high-powered exhaustion.


  1. Hi Farzana,
    It is not the high powered women in politics or business .It is power of ordinary women which is of interest to me.You are a good example of powerful,vocal woman.Empowering women can only help society.I have seen Indian women's status improve and have come to leadership on their own rather than promoted for family name and other advantages.
    Symbolic successes are always a start.
    Hope these women running for president of Afganistan can open the way a little for the young girls there.
    Keep up,cheers.
    Kul bhushan

  2. FV,
    Behtulla Mehsud episode is one more egg on the face for the Paki establishment, the fact is that all Paki Generals have been shitting bricks right from the time they have been asked to fight the pathans. It is so obvious in their constipated smiles ...
    On the afghan side, they are busy pampering west and their visits, they should focus on building a state which is almost non existent today...India should support it completely and absolutely....no better friend than a pathan ever :)
    Only one country can make paki balls shrink to the size of raisins ...and that is afghanistan...even mush accepts.
    Please pass this on to Tharoor when you meet him next :)

  3. How about writing a well researched op-ed on finding women jusirsts to serve on Indian Supreme Court? Whereas politicians come and go it is the Supereme Court writs , in the end, which stick and make all equal.

  4. Kul Bhushan:

    Indeed, I think it is important, even if they do not win. It isn't a question of symbolism here but being proactive. Even in our societies not many women politicians do anything for women.

    Thank you for your kind words. Don't know about being vocal, but I sure use the rattle well :)


    Yeh Pathan log kya pass kar rahe hai aap ki taraf? Some poppy?! I do agree that they are the greatest warriors, if only they got their world-view a bit in sync. We were close to Afghanistan at one time.

    I think the only way to pass on the message to Tharoor is to call him on his mobile when he is flying :)...I am assuming you read the report.


    Politicians come and go and the Supreme Court writs are not binding and all are not equal in reality.

  5. Please stop peddling this "Pathans are greatest warriors" BS, which has its origins in British mythology of martial races in India. They happen to live in a large and difficult mountainous terrain with a lot of natural caves and vantage points for anyone to attack and destroy them completely short of nuking the place.


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