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Logo SAVE - Sisters against violent extremism

10. November 2009

Salma Malik © Salma Malik

Salma Malik, Lecturer at the Department of Defence & Strategic Studies,
Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad

Female Voices from Pakistan

Listen to the Women without Borders SAVE Activists from Islamabad

Women are a direct casualty of any form of conflict, whether it is inter- or intrastate. However, the impact of intrastate conflict on women is all the more intensified, because despite being non-combatants, they most often bear the direct or indirect consequences of the conflict. Women face oppression, have to leave the comfort of home and hearth, and live the life of refugees or displaced persons. They are forced into prostitution, girl-child soldiering, or have to face widowhood, and frequently lose whatever sources of livelihood they have.

Pakistan was made to fulfil the promise of giving its marginalised population a sense of identity and purpose to lead a meaningful life of choice. The Pakistani government based their efforts on the true guiding principles of Islam, which would not under any circumstance discriminate between individuals, whether based on colour, caste, creed or religion. They promoted moderation and tolerance in everything. Today, unfortunately, Pakistan is facing a violent streak of extremist religiosity, perpetrated by a sundry of agents, both state and non state.

In this undefined war, telling friend from foe is very difficult and has claimed many precious lives. The war has widowed many women, orphaned many children, and robbed people of their livelihood, homes, education and innocence. However, people both at home and abroad decried these barbaric acts of bombing, terrorism and violence. The nameless girl from Swat, whose flogging at the hands of self-proclaimed religious ideologues become the symbol of resistance and struggle that freed the beautiful valley of Swat from the clutches of extremist elements, let the entire nation to stand behind our soldiers who fight to purge the land of extremist occupation. It is not an easy battle to fight, but we remain resolved.

The price to pay is very high: children fear being taken hostage and cannot go to school, and suicide bombings in market places (such as that in Peshawar) end up taking the lives of hundreds of people and strike fear into the hearts of the people. What was most tragic was that a high percentage of the victims were women, the majority of whom observed purdah. Many unfortunate families lost their sole bread earners, and left children orphaned. Other victims survived, but with life-long disabilities. Others are also affected: people who have had to leave their homes and move to camps, braving extreme and harsh weather, with no promise of returning to their homes in near future and yet maintaining their dignity. Every day a mother in Pakistan mourns the death of her son, brother, or husband, either as a casualty of a suicide bombing or in the fight against extremist elements. This means that not one but many generations are scarred physically as well as psychologically by this senseless spate of terrorism.

As Pakistani women, belonging to any and all walks of life, we not only condemn this barbaric and senseless war, but also stand resolved to defeat through any means possible this menace, as we are the custodians of our future generations.

This statement was composed by the Women without Borders SAVE Pakistan group.

 
 

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