Closure of Girls’ Schools in Swat Condemned

Civil Society Strongly Condemns Closure of Girls’ Schools in Swat
Islamabad, 15 January 2009

All over Pakistan, huge numbers of civil society organizations, human rights activists, lawyers, teachers and concerned citizens protest against and condemn in the strongest terms, the barbaric, inhuman and un-Islamic act of blowing up and closing down girls’ schools in Swat, under the orders of a local Taliban group, led by Mullah Fazalullah.

We remind the Mullah that the first word of the Quran is “IQRA” and it is NOT confined to the male species. Neither are the Hadiths that enjoin on ALL to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave, even if it means travelling to China.

We most strongly condemn and protest against the sacking and thereby the loss of livelihoods of the thousands of women teachers of these schools. We strongly condemn and protest against Mullah Fazalullah’s forcing Swat’s industry owners to sack all their women industrial workers, who were the sole breadwinners of low income families living in dire poverty.

We are outraged at the Taliban’s brutal killing of a young woman and dragging out her body for a public spectacle. We are further outraged at the horrific photograph of the ban on women from markets and public places – as also the immediate action on the ban by intimidated traders.

We are profoundly angry at and strongly condemn the Taliban’s daily barbaric and inhuman execution of men in Swat and hanging up their dead bodies in Khooni/Zibah Khana Chowk.

We condemn the total absence of law and order, police, courts and district administration. We condemn the injustice of the Taliban’s decisions of “instant justice” and instant punishment.

We MOST STRONGLY protest against and condemn the professed helplessness, criminal silence and indifference of the Pukhtunkhwa ANP Government and the federal PPP Government. We condemn the total absence of the writ of the State, despite prolonged and ongoing military operations against extremist militancy in Swat and FATA. We also condemn these operations for their negative results, due to he Government and military’s appeasement policy and a lack of political will and resolve.

We strongly protest and condemn the deafening silence from the religio-political parties (former MMA coalition ruling Pukhtunkhwa since 2002) and the so-called ulema.

The brutal loss of life and livelihoods in Swat has reached gigantic proportions, but since neither the military nor the Taliban permit electronic media coverage, we do not see the daily brutalities in the manner in which Al-Jazeera, BBC & CNN have been covering Israel’s brutalities in Gaza.

Thus, there is an eerie silence on the killing fields of Swat, and the ruling ANP Government of the so-called secular, progressive party of Bacha Khan is enacting Shariah Laws and states on the record that once Shariah is enforced in Swat, as it has been in the rest of Malakand, there will be peace and tranquility.

We ask: peace and tranquility for whom? Not for the thousands of those killed, maimed, brutalized and turned out of their homes and the district. Not for the shelterless IDPs and refugees, not for the schoolgirls now at home, not for the jobless school teachers and factory workers. Only for the ANP, the PPP, and their military and U.S.A. masters.

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