Afghanistan Going Back to Medieval Age

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Afghan Shia Women Denied Food for Refusing Sex – An Outrageous Law

Afghan President Karzai on ‘Appeasing’ Spree with Taliban, to Win Another Election

President Karzai has learned a lot from Indian democracy in general and politicians in particular how to fight an election successfully. He singled out the phenomenon of “appeasement” from India and applied there in Afghan politics to keep himself in power.

What did he do? He passed a law permitting Shia men to deny their wives food if they refuse to submit to their sexual demands. This is certainly not Islamic law, but it may be the demand of Shia clerics there. Even then, such a law passed is nothing but outrageous, drawing ire from all human rights organisation in the world.

He is helping take Afghanistan back to the Taliban medieval age, which was the darkest period of atrocities against women in particular. Women began to feel safe after the ouster of the Taliban and are coming out in the open asserting their rights. this backward legislation may satisfy the clerics of the 20% Shia minority community, but would not go well in the age of women’s lib and emancipation.

Karzai drew international outrage over an earlier version of legalisation which he promised to review, bowing to pressure. This he has done in the same way India’s Rajive Gandhi did in 1989 when he brought legislation to outdo the famous ‘Sha Bano’ case and in a quid pro quo act of appeasement, he opened the gates of Babri Masjid for Shilanyas, which opened up a floodgate of hatred that led to destruction of the mosque in December 1992.

Hamid Karzai has taken a leaf from the style book of Rajiv Gandhi, but failed to draw a lesson from him that such ‘appeasement’ policy would not go well with the people concerned and he paid the price.

If Karzai is feeling the heat of the resurgent Taliban, it is better to fight them than to succumb to their demands and pass such outrageous legislation. Pakistan is the best example of how such appeasement policy towards the Taliban failed in Swat Valley, where they succumbed to Taliban demands and allowed Sharia law. What happened next is history. They turned against the people and threatened to take over the capital through armed struggle. They finally had to be driven out of the Valley through a bloody war in which hundreds of Taliban were killed. Karzai should review into the whole issue after learning this lesson from his neighbours in Swat valley.

It is another matter that the writ of Karzai runs only in cities of Kabul, Khandahar and others, as the entire tribal areas are controlled by various factions of Taliban and Chieftains. The US and allies failed to dislodge them, and the recent bombing of NATO headquarters in Kabul is a grim reminder that the Taliban are far from finished.

Shia clerics deserve high condemnation for forcing the Karzai government to pass such a shameful law. What if a shia wife refuses sex, would the husband go to the Mullah every now and then for enforcing conjugal rights. There are different ways of dealing with a recalcitrant wife. She is not as a wild an animal to always deny the husband the sexual pleasure. There are other laws enshrined in the Holy Quran to deal with errant wives.

If these Shia have any belief in the Quran, which they call a temporary Quran, as their own orignal Quran said to have been taken away by an infant Mehdi hiding in a cave for hundreds of years and would come out according to their belief on the Doomsday. The Clerics should find ways and means to deal with such a situation in the light of the saying of our Prophet Mohammed PBUH.

Before it is too late, Karzai should withdraw the legislation and leave the matter to Shia clerics to enforce personal laws through their own diktats to the community. The Shia community listens more to their Imams than anyone else. In such a situation, Shia Imams, including in Iran, may prevail over wives to obey their husbands. It is a private matter athat need not come to the public domain. This is shameful, outrageous and highly condemnable. There is no point in going back to medieval practices. Jai Hind.

A.M. Jamsheed Basha is a Chennai-based columnist, political commentator, who writes on matters of importance, political, social and self-improvement.