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Candide’s Latest: Thursday, September 14, 2006
Pakistan's Infatuation With Rape

Gang-raped, by law

 Our ally in rape and regression: Under current “law” in Pakistan, if a woman is raped and she has the courage to bring her case to justice, she must face the fact that all forms of sex outside marriage are considered a crime. Short of presenting four malewitnesses to her rape who would confirm that it was, in fact, a rape (as opposed to, say, most male’s default position on such crimes: “She wanted it”), then the woman would herself be prosecuted for adultery. Needless to say, women reporting rapes in Pakistan would only be asking for grief. Rape case prosecutions are therefore rare, although such tribal practices as the gang-raping of “adultresses” not so rare. So goes life in a country considered a principal ally of the United States in the war on terror. Ask not what terror is meant by the alliance: if it were a true war on terror, it would first deal with those regressive laws in places like Pakistan, where the terrorism is a daily affair, condoned and reveled in by the patriarchy. Nevertheless: Pakistan was close to reforming this bit of infamy in its legal code. The Pakistani government was about to submit a law that would institute the normal laws of criminal procedures and evidence in rape cases. But no longer. Pakistan’s mullahs complained. The Pakistan government retreated. Rape on.

 

The “global war on terror” is a hoax: “The "war on terror" doesn't fit the normal pattern for global conflicts,” Scott Burchill writes in Australia’s The Age. “It is not an existential threat to any state and cannot change the distribution of military power in the world. The West struggles to articulate clear criteria for victory in the war, while Islamists have no chance of achieving their aims and virtually no appeal in the West. Threats to civilians are likely to continue but, as events in Britain demonstrated recently, they are more likely to be thwarted by effective policing and intelligence than by invading armies. […]Al-Qaeda is a methodology that inspires loosely affiliated but mostly autonomous imitators such as Jemaah Islamiah. To the extent that it ever was an organisation in a hierarchical sense, it is virtually finished. Its appeal, however, is largely undiminished thanks to George Bush's reckless adventurism and Washington's abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Despite very different circumstances, motives, struggles and groups, we are told these events are all connected — part of a vast anti-Western plot that we must prosecute as a war. This is a grievous error that avoids the need to address each of these challenges separately using diplomacy, intelligence and law enforcement. The war against terror is a hoax.”

Speaking of hoaxes : Here’s what we read in Asia Times Online: “Osama bin Laden is on the move, and Tuesday’s terror attack on the US Embassy in the Syrian capital, Damascus, could be a tangible result of this. Exclusive information obtained by Asia Times Online shows that the al-Qaeda leader recently traveled from the South Waziristan tribal area in Pakistan to somewhere in the eastern Afghan […].According to a witness, bin Laden traveled in a double-cabin truck with a few armed guards - not in a convoy. Apparently, this is how he now prefers to move around.” And what, no pictures? “At the same time, a close aide responsible for bin Laden’s logistics and media relations told Asia Times Online that bin Laden had recovered from serious kidney-related ailments.” The piece is written by Syed Saleem Shahzad, “ Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief.” His email is listed, too: saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com . Maybe the guys at CIA could get bin touch with him and see who his travel agent happens to be. With connections like these, who needs a global war on terror?

Back on Earth, Afghanistan’s version of hell is getting worse. Tony Blair sent an SOS for more NATO troops to join the fighting against the resurgent Taliban. He got no response, probably because Pakistan’s dear leader had ruined the party with his description of Afghanistan to European leaders: “President Pervez Musharraf has warned that Taliban have overtaken Al Qaeda as the region’s biggest threat to security,” Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported. “The Taliban were more dangerous because they had roots as a social movement and not simply an ideology, the president told the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee” in Brussels on Tuesday. “The centre of gravity of terrorism has shifted from Al Qaeda to Taliban,” he said. “It is a new element that has emerged, a more dangerous element because it has roots in the people. Al Qaeda did not have roots in the people,” he said. And this from the UK Independent: “Soldiers deployed in Helmand province five years on from the US-led invasion, and six months after the deployment of a large British force, have told The Independent that the sheer ferocity of the fighting in the Sangin valley, and privations faced by the troops, are far worse than generally known. "We are flattening places we have already flattened, but the attacks have kept coming. We have killed them by the dozens, but more keep coming, either locally or from across the border," one said. "We have used B1 bombers, Harriers, F16s and Mirage 2000s. We have dropped 500lb, 1,000lb and even 2,000lb bombs. At one point our Apaches [helicopter gunships] ran out of missiles they have fired so many. Almost any movement on the ground gets ambushed. We need an entire battle group to move things. Yet they will not give us the helicopters we have been asking for.”

And in Baghdad? 60 bodies, tortured and executed. Seeding democracy has never smelled so rank.

Lebanon will sue Israel over catastrophic oil spill: Israeli warplanes in mid-July bombed a power station on the Mediterranean coast some 20 kilometers south of Beirut, sending some 110,000 barrels (more than 17.4 million liters) of oil into the sea, according to the Associated Press, “threatening marine life and the local fishing and tourism industries. The slick spread to 150 kilometers of Lebanon's coast and reached Syria's shoreline to the north.” Cost estimates: $100 million. Israel’s response? It’ll probably have to wait until the Israeli air force’s next bombing run.

The American habit of shooting up school campuses is spreading to Canada, although not without precedent: a lone gunman killed 14 women at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique in December 1989 before shooting himself.

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