The 116 Canadian soldiers who have died in Afghanistan were not sacrificed for the sake of interfering with women's rights
There are times in the life of a blogger or columnist (or whatever the moniker) when one is truly spoiled for choice. This is that moment, but it is possibly best to leave the G20 for what actually happens at the G20—although the communiqué has been leaked, so perhaps enough said already.
So, let’s trudge over the hideously barren mountains, past Tora Bora and wherever the heck Osama may be still hanging out, and settle on the extraordinary regime of one Hamad Karzai. Need I say more? Well, yes, actually.
Here in Canada the proverbial has hit the fan due to the reports of the latest election ploy of the Western-sanctioned President of Afghanistan. It is all to do with his piece of legislation designed to placate the Taliban. In crude terms it is a crack-down on the rights of women, relegating them to the position of chattel and legally endorsing rape within marriage.
It is election season in Afghanistan, and obviously Karzai has decided to appeal to a certain extreme section of his electorate by bowing to an aspect of Shar’ia “family law” which happens to do away with the rights of women. Under Shar'ia law, women will not be able to leave their homes without the permission of their husbands, even to go to the doctor. They will be denied any custody of their children in the event of divorce in favour of husband, or get this, father-in-law, and will not be permitted to say “no” to sex with their husbands. In this part of the world that equals rape, ergo, slavery.
So why is Canada worried?
Well, 116 Canadian soldiers have died fighting the "good fight" in Afghanistan, and that has not been to allow rape within marriage.
So today’s question period in Canada’s Parliament was a ballistic experience, with questions concerning why the hell young Canadians have died in battle to protect the master-slave rights of Afghan men?
The problems come in the answer. Canada’s Foreign Minister, Stockwell Day, says his government has told his Afghani counterpart that such law will not do! He’s waved the big maple leaf at the robed one and—voila!—nothing! Surprise, surprise. Day has said “there will be consequences”! We are yet to see a dramatic turnaround in Afghanistan’s policy due to the threat of Canada’s ire, but Day is sure it will come.
Canada has sacrificed 116 military lives and a hell of a lot more injured to the cause of Afghanistan, and here’s the rub—the Canadian government actually sold this involvement to a very dubious public on the basis of, among other things, women's rights and girls’ education.
I have written before on the outrage that is the Pakistani capitulation to the Taliban in the region of Swat. This is no different. This is using women as bargaining chips in the election process of an administration that is arguably corrupt and definitely grappling for some sort of support that might tip it over into a majority.
But, back to ‘consequences’. What does that mean in political speak? Hillary Clinton has invoked the phrase with North Korea’s impending rocket launch. 'Consequences' for North Korea are what? Denial of food aid so millions more can starve on top of the number the North Korean administration is quite happy to let starve anyway?
‘Consequences’ for Afghanistan are equally idiotic. Starve the Afghani people of aid and that is an entrée for the Taliban to step in as Hezbollah and Hamas have done to provide the social services the corrupt governments have proven incapable of doing. Ergo, victory for the Taliban. ‘Consequences’ in the form of taking foreign troops home is also a victory for the Taliban which hardly needs spelling out.
The ignominy for Hillary Clinton, trying to cast satellite truckloads of media attention on her ability to get Iranian issues on the table, must be highly frustrating. The pictures of her with the robed Karzai were not comfortable as the headlines read that Hills is not impressed with the anti-women development. The issue now for Clinton, Canada and all the other nations who have committed to the UN sanctioned offensive in Afghanistan is to halt the current leadership there, and state uncategorically that women's rights are not an acceptable election bargaining chip.
If the world does not recognise (and expose) Karzai for what he is—and call him to account—we may as well just add him to the long list of hideously wrong politically expedient choices the world’s hegemon has made in living history. I say ‘living’ in that we are all ‘living’ with the consequences.