Sunday, March 8, 2015
As half the planet, women make immeasurable contributions to our world. They are entrepreneurs, farmers, educators, scientists, artists, soldiers, mothers, heads of state – the list is endless. Without them, economies would collapse, political systems would deteriorate, and families and communities would fall apart. Yet in too many places, women are treated as second-class citizens. Their abilities are undervalued. And their human rights – the right to learn, to express themselves, to live free from violence, to choose whether and whom to marry – are routinely violated.
This gap between women’s inherent value and how many of them are treated every day is one of the great injustices of our time. On this International Women's Day, we recommit ourselves to closing that gap.
That means supporting girls' education. Right now, 62 million girls worldwide who should be in school aren't. Millions more are at risk of losing their access to education. This week, Michelle and I announced an initiative called "Let Girls Learn," to help dismantle the barriers – economic, political and cultural – that stand in the way of girls who want to learn.
I'm convinced that a world in which women and girls are treated as equal to men and boys is safer, more stable, and more prosperous. Beyond those tangible benefits, this is simply a matter of right and wrong. Women and girls are human beings, full and equal in rights and dignity. They deserve to be treated that way, everywhere, every day. My Administration will continue working to make that vision a reality.
The ruling party leadership used proscribed outfits to muster support during the Islamabad protests last year. ASWJ marched from Lal Masjid to Islamabad Press Club in August, in support for the Nawaz government. The PML-N’s members were present on the stage and thanked AWSJ for supporting their government. The protection to the AWSJ is political and still continues. A news report reads, “The Islamabad police on Friday agreed to provide security to the mosques and other institutions affiliated with the banned Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) and its office bearers”. Why is a banned outfit being provided protection? Why is the state itself the first one to break its own promises?
ASWJ, formerly banned as Sipah-e-Sahaba, has been at the forefront on sectarian violence for decades. The outfit was protesting against the ban and the assassinations of top leadership in Islamabad. They have said that they would like to “peacefully coexist.” But it is simply a matter of too little too late.
About 25 per cent of 643 madrassas in the districts of Hyderabad division, with an estimated 50,000 students, have been closed for failing to fulfil the registration requirement under the NAP. The ASWJ has especially faced damages. It has 42 mosques and 10 madrassas in six districts within the Hyderabad division. Two of their madrassas have been sealed by the police in Jamshoro and Dadu. Last month, a case was registered in two separate police stations of Islamabad against ASWJ leader Maulana Ahmed Ludhianwi along with more than 200 of his colleagues. The cases were registered for spreading religious hatred, intervening in government activities and violating the Amplifier Act.
If the state continues to protect them, other groups will just take the law into their own hands with target killings and assassinations. The people of Pakistan, especially minority groups have been living in fear, it is now time that the perpetrators face some of this insecurity as well. Banned organisations cannot be tolerated just because they have changed their name. After decades of killing and hate speech, the ASWJ cannot expect to coexist as though the past is all water under the bridge.