A report from Pakistan in today's Sunday Times caught my eye
One woman is raped every two hours and one gang-raped every eight hours, according to the country’s independent Human Rights Commission. But under the ordinance introduced in 1979 by the dictator General Zia ul-Haq as part of an Islamization campaign, rape cases have to be dealt with in sharia courts. Victims need four male witnesses to the crime — or face prosecution for adultery.
More than 2,000 women are in jail for intercourse — either victims of rape or those who have eloped to marry for love and have then been reported, usually by one of their parents.
But after 27 years of protests by activists such as Bokhari, Pakistan’s Senate finally voted last week to pass an amendment to the ordinance drawn up by President Pervez Musharraf, despite resignation threats from MPs from religious parties.
Described by Musharraf as “a victory of justice, truth and the progressive forces”, the Women’s Protection Bill will allow civil courts to try rape cases and admit DNA evidence. It also drops the penalty of stoning to death for sex outside marriage, although activists acknowledge that such sentences are not carried out.
Throughout Europe and now in America there is a war-weariness that wants to bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. All would be well if we were to leave the Middle East to the Islamists. They would not trouble us. we could live our lives and they could live theirs. This is totally to misunderstand the nature of the war we are fighting. 9/11 was not an isolated incident. There had been Islamist attacks on the West before and there have been since.
Also in the Sunday Times from Pakistan comes this.
THE British will never win in Afghanistan by military means and should open negotiations with the Taliban, according to the former leader of Pakistan’s forces in the border areas.
On the eve of a NATO summit in Riga at which member nations will be urged to send more troops, Lieutenant-General Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai, who led Pakistan’s hunt for Al-Qaeda until 2004 and is now governor of North West Frontier province, said: “Bring 50,000 more troops and fight for 10 to 15 years more and you won’t resolve it. The British with their history in Afghanistan should have known that better than anyone else.”
Aurakzai said that NATO had failed to achieve any of its objectives. “Why did the coalition come to Afghanistan? To find Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, Mullah Omar and the Taliban; for democracy, reconstruction and development, and [to] leave a stable Afghanistan which wouldn’t be vulnerable to terrorists.
“All very noble, but tell me which one of those objectives have been achieved? I went to Kabul in September and they are all living in a big bunker with no control over Afghanistan. There’s no law and order. The insurgency has become far worse . . . is that a success?”
Remember the Taliban? Remember how they dealt with women?
Many years ago it was common in India for widows to throw themselves on their late husband's funeral pyre. The British, as colonial power, outlawed the practice. Many years ago it was common for black men to be transported from Africa to the New World to work as slave labor for white men on cotton or sugar plantations. The British as colonial power outlawed this and fought battles to enforce their view. Eventually Americans fought an engagement in which more Americans were killed than any other to outlaw slavery.
What has happened to Principles? Millions of people worldwide are enslaved by evil men whose philosophy has not moved on from a 7th Century religious text written by an uneducated nomad. I'm not condemning Islam as a whole; no doubt many wise men have derived from that text principles suitable for living in the 21st Century, but the Islam of the Taliban is like the Christianity of mountain men who pick up snakes and drink poison because of the spurious ending Mark chapter 16. To abandon millions of people to Taliban rule would be cowardice and selfishness, and in the long term a spectacular own-goal.
This is not to say that you can gain victory with tanks and guns, but you can certainly achieve defeat without them. There are other weapons in this war that we are engaged in. Education, construction, fresh water and proper sewage systems, electricity, good roads, and above all religious instruction are all potent armaments, but without the defense forces to protect them from mortar attacks and machine guns, they cannot be deployed.
Christians, in particular, should listen to their own Bible. "Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few." The words were spoken by Jonathan, the son of King Saul, at a time when the Hebrews were oppressed by the Philistines. Blacksmiths had been banished from the land and the Hebrews had to take their ploughshares and pruning hooks to the Philistines for sharpening at exorbitant cost. Only Jonathan and his father owned a sword. Yet armed with sticks and stones alone the Hebrews were led by God to drive the Philistines from the land.
Time has come for Christians to put away the image of God as a wimp in a white nightdress. In the Old Testament God is established as an awesome figure. To have dealings with Him is a fearsome business. In the New Testament, Jesus shows us that God has that power under control; that He can act with gentleness and kindness; that His grace is as great as His power. But is folly to disregard His power or to think that He winks at sin. The book of Revelation is explicit about the judgment to come. Jesus explicitly tells us to fear Him.