Voices of solidarity with RAWA and deprecation of the attack by Talib-cubs

In the aftermath of the attack by Taliban hooligans on RAWA demonstrators, numerous messages of solidarity have been received from individuals and organisations in Pakistan and other countries. Many such messages have been received by e-mail and a number have been published in the Pakistani press.
Chairman PAP, Secretary general PPP (SB) and vice-chairman HRCP condemned the attack
NWFP Chief Minister takes serious note of attack on RAWA rally
Begum Tahira Mazhar Ali, General Secretary DWA condemned the attack
Labour Party Pakistan express its deepest concern over this incident
The chairman, SG and vice chairman of HRWPO condemned the attack
Taliban's animosity towards women
The king, the saint and the woman
Communist Party of Iran condemnes attack on RAWA rally

The Frontier Post, April 30,1998

Taliban attack on RAWA rally condemned

PESHAWAR (PPI) - People from different walks of life Wednesday, condemned Afghan Taliban for attacking a peaceful rally organized by members of Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) here on Tuesday.

Secretary general PPP (Shaheed Bhutto Group), Dr. Ghulam Hussain at a press conference here said, "we condemn the attack which is open interference in Pakistan internal affairs".

Chairman of Pakistan Awami Party (PAP), Fanoos Gujjar in a statement demanded of the government to arrest those Afghan students who attacked the rally with batons and punish them.

He said had these any objection on the rally, they would have expressed their sentiments in a democratic way by taking out their procession.

He maintained that the way Afghan Taliban group attacked the women rally suggests that they wanted to promote their fundamentalism on the soil of Pakistan.

He warned the government to take notice of the activities of such foreign elements in time otherwise problem would aggravate to such extent that at later stage government may not be able to control the situation.

He said expressed all out support of his party to the RAWA and other democratic and progressive Afghan.

Meanwhile, the vice-chairman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan NWFP chapter Afrasiab Khattak condemned the Taliban attack on RAWA activists and demanded stern action against them.

In a statement issued there Wednesday, he said it was violation of basic human rights and government should take notice of the developments taking place in its country.

He also appealed to democratic and progressive elements of the country to come forward and launch a war against the forces of "darkness".

News Network International, May 1, 1998

Mahtab takes serious note of attack on RAWA rally

PESHAWAR (NNI): The NWFP Chief Minister Sardar Mahtab Ahmad Khan Abbasi taking a serious note of the Afghans' attack on the rally of Revolutionary Afghan Women Association (RAWA) the day before yesterday said that acts of suppression won't be allowed on the Pakistani soil.

Official sources told NNI Thursday that the Chief Minister took up the issue with the concerned authorities saying "we respect the democratic rights of the people but that does not mean that we would not react to the people violating others rights." He warned of strict action against those who repeat such act of violence in future.

Abbasi also directed the law enforcing agencies to keep vigil on those who try to create law and order situation and act against them effectively.

The sources said that the Chief Minister has also raised the issue with Afghan Counsel General. He told him that Pakistan was helping its Afghan brethren for twenty long years and its brotherly attitude has not changed despite the withdrawal of the foreign troops, "if such situations start arising so often it will naturally affect the behavior of the people of NWFP," the Chief Minister added.

He stressed the need that the Afghans keep their differences within the boundaries of their country, "they won't be allowed to use Pakistani soil to settle their disputes by force at any cost," he said.

He said that Pakistan was a democratic country where every one had the freedom of expression in line with the democratic traditions.

The Muslim, April 30, 1998

Attack on women rally flayed


LAHORE, April 29: Attack on women's procession in Peshawar by supporters of Taliban provoked strong protest in women's organizations here who condemned the Kabul government for its discriminatory measures against women talk in Afghanistan.

Women procession which came under attack in Peshawar was arranged by Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) to observe 'Black Day' against occupation of Kabul by Taliban.

Begum Tahira Mazhar Ali, General Secretary Democratic Women's Association, condemning the attack against RAWA rally said, Taliban regime was misusing the sacred name of Islam which imposed fascist measures against women barring them form education and employment opportunities, subjecting them to worst type of discrimination. She said so-called Islamist regime resorting to savage measures forced women and poor population of the country to die in hunger and destitution.

Referring to the attitude of power engaged in "peace talks", Tahira Mazhar Ali said it was regrettable to note that none of the powers that matter in Afghan affairs cared to force Taliban to stop their savagery. They were rather interested only in having a free and safe passage to Central Asian Republics to benefit from their rich resources.

Daily Hot News, May 1,1998

Taliban's attack on women condemned

Labour Party Pakistan express its deepest concern over this incident

Islamabad: (Staff Reporter):This is to condemn the brutal attack on a peaceful RAWA procession in Peshawar on April 28th by the fundamentalist group of Taliban. The Labour Party Pakistan express its deepest concern over this incident.

The incident shows the complete hypocracy of Taliban in their insurance to the world imperialism that they have respect for women.

We also condemn the so-called peace talks by different fundamentalist groups in Islamabad on the initiative of American Imperialism as this would only result in intensifying the violation of human rights by the united mullah government in future. The incident has exposed the real fascist nature of Taliban government.

The Labour Party Pakistan would organize meetings, picket lines and demonstrations in Lahore and around the country to condemn the incident. We show our complete solidarity with Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) in their fight against the fundamentalism and for the restoration of a real democracy in Afghanistan. Hands in hands with the Afghan people, the Pakistani masses will overthrow the present capitalist and feudal system that is promoting fundamentalism, intolerance and fascism in the region.

The Frontier Post, May 3, 1998

Taliban's attack on RAWA rally condemned

FP Report

PESHAWAR - The chairman, Human Rights and Wildlife Protection Organization, Sikander Khan, secretary general Dr. Fazal Sher and vice chairman Sajjad Haider have condemned the attack on the procession of RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) by the Taliban and their followers.

In a joint press release issued here on Saturday, they said that the religious students were brought from the near by madrassas in Peshawar and they tried to create law and order situation in the city. They added that these Taliban wanted to turn NWFP in to a mini-Afghanistan and they tried to create anarchy on Pakistani soil.

The office-bearers said that the women of Afghanistan have rendered extreme sacrifices for the liberation of Afghanistan from the invaders but their this great role has completely been ignored by the power hungry Afghan war-lords.

They regretted that their soil has been used by these war-lords for settling their personal scores and the government totally failed to restrict their activities and now they have turned their guns towards a weak segment of the society, Afghan women.

The organization's members said that a lot of restrictions have already been imposed by the Taliban government on the name of Islam and all the doors of acquiring education were closed on females. They added that the Afghan widows and working women have been passing through great mental and physical agony.

They asked the government of Pakistan to take stern action against those who have been arrested and exemplary punishment should be awarded.

The Frontier Post, May 3, 1998

Taliban's animosity towards women

A procession organized by RAWA, consisting of Afghan women and children, was peacefully demonstrating in Peshawar, the other day, against warring groups in Afghanistan. In retaliation, a large number of Taliban students, armed with bamboos and sticks, attacked the demonstrating women and children, to "teach them a lesson for raising slogan against macho-Taliban".

Nowhere in the world, never so in a Pakhtun set-up, the weaker sex is ever subjected to an organized attack by a collective force of men. Secondly, this is the first instance of the savagery and fundamentalism practiced in the Taliban-dominated Afghanistan, showing its ugly head in a metropolis of Pakistan. Unless deterrent action is taken against the responsible elements, the government of NWFP will be considered privy in helping establish the first ever laboratory to nurture and generate germs capable of setting trends to settle scores by foreign elements in Pakistan. For the first time the long-talked-about "foreign hand" is publicly spotted. The government must act swiftly to chop off the "foreign hand", to avoid expressing remorse at a letter ugly development.

Col (R) Sgb Shah Bokhari,

The Frontier Post, May 4, 1998

The king, the saint and the woman

M Ilyas Khan

When Rome was burning, Nero was playing his fiddle. Peshawar has not been burning exactly, but one wonders what Chief Minister Mehtab Abbasi was doing when the Taliban laid siege of the main University Road near Peshawar Club last Tuesday and searched buses for Afghan woman activists?

Peshawar is not burning. Not yet. But this is no justification for our hero Abbasi to keep playing launched in Afghanistan four years ago, the analysts said they would finally turn of Pakistan in the fashion of the proverbial chicken coming home to roost. Tuesday's incident shows that the prophecy has at least partly come true.

For those who missed the big news, let me recall the bitterness that was created when a group of baton-wielding Taliban attacked an Afghan women's procession on Tambwano Chowk last Tuesday.

The women, who included girl students of the Afghan schools operating in Peshawar and Jolozai, and the activists of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), were demonstrating on the occasion of what they called the Black Day - commemorating the capture of Kabul by "fundamentalists" on April 28,1992.

The attack by the madrassah students came when the women raised anti-Taliban slogans and performed the mock hanging of the Taliban's Amir, Mulla Mohammad Omar, on the gallows fixed atop one of the vehicles that accompanied the procession.

The "mischief" provoked the baton-wielding fanatics to attack women - an undignified act for an Afghan male, or any male for that matter. But did the women budge?

According to newsmen present on the occasion, the women let the guys have a taste of the legendary Afghan resistance; they attacked them back with sticks and stones, and gave some of them a black eye. The attackers were dispersed by the police by firing teargas shells and using their own share of the batons in the field.

So for so good. But what took the cake was the event that followed. Coming to know about the reverses suffered by their comrades at Tambwano Chowk, some 300 students from a madrassah in the heart of Peshawar Cantonment came out and started regulating traffic on a major city route. They were stopping and searching mini-buses to see if they could find an odd RAWA woman dispersing from the procession.

Lucky they didn't find any. There is no telling what they might have dong in the heat of the moment, given the track record of their superiors in affairs concerning "womanly behavior", and open-air execution of justice.

Unluckily, however, they continued to dominate the University Road during their pleasure, folding their batons (!!) under the arms only when they had made sure that the RAWA procession had dispersed and the women gone away.

Unluckily for the chief minister, because he heads the executive authority of this province, and unluckily for the people of this province, because the more this executive authority privatizes its economic assets, the more its control over law and order gets privatized, and in the end it is always the common folks who get the worst of both worlds.

People are already facing problems which are extremely serious, but which the people's representative executive authority tends to describe rhetorically in official meetings as "numerous" problems. It has failed to implement the Pure Foods Act, for instance, or the Drugs Act, which has exposed the people to contaminated mail, meat and other foodstuffs on the one hand, and thrown them at the marcy of extortionist quack doctors and chemists on the other. There is no development work, no employment (and therefore no purchasing power, no savings and no consumption). They available communications infrastructure is falling into disrepair and public utilities establishments are drying up like dead moths.

And now the ultimate outrage.

By occupying the University Road in the manner they did, the Taliban have not only shown their disgust of the RAWA women, they also challenged the government by openly taking the law into their hands and keeping it for over half an hour before retiring to their madrassah.

The Afghan women treated them with a royal flair and put them right where they belong. Can Mehtab Abbasi pick up from where the girls left off?

We received the following statement through E-mail

Communist Party of Iran condemnes attack on RAWA rally
International Bureau - Communist Party of Iran
NEWS RELEASE: 6 May 1998

    According to news received from RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan), a peaceful women's demonstration and rally on 28 April 1998 in Peshawar, Pakistan, was savagely attacked by baton-wielding groups of Afghan Taliban. Several participants were seriously injured. The demonstration had been called to mark and condemn the 'Black Day' invasion of Kabul by Muslim fundamentalists.

    The International Bureau of the CPI strongly condemns this violent attack on the Afghan women and their supporters in Pakistan, and urges the government in Pakistan to ensure that any future events these women may organise will be protected effectively against such brutal intervention. We also urge other governments, in their contacts with both Pakistani and Afghan political, industry and commercial representatives, to press home these points.

    Many Pakistani personalities and parties have spoken out against the attack by the Afghan Taliban, their criticism often concentrating on it being 'open interference in Pakistan's internal affairs' (eg Ghulam Hussain, secretary general of the Shaheed Bhutto Group, quoted in The Frontier Post, 30 April). Others have called for the arrest of the Afghan Taliban and for the surveillance of groups wanting to promote their fundamentalism on the soil of Pakistan, while others have condemned the attack as a violation of basic human rights.

    We salute the Afghan women and their supporters for their courage and determination in bringing to public attention the intolerable situation of women in Afghanistan since Taliban have seized power in most parts of the country. They have driven women out of jobs, back into their homes, and out of public sight, in a manner reminiscent of the darkest medieval and inhuman times. Professional women are no longer allowed to teach, practice medicine, and in other ways carry out their employment, denying them the opportunity to earn an income. Girls and young women are deprived of their education. Ordinary, poor women are forbidden to venture outside their homes even to beg for food for their children, or if they can afford it, to buy bread.

    As the women of Afghanistan have been deprived of their own voice, it is up to those who have escaped from the Taliban-imposed prison-like conditions to raise theirs, to expose the true situation and rally support for the helpless and hopeless women inside the country. But even more urgent is the task of all freedom-loving people, prominent personalities, political and workers' organisations around the world to do whatever they can to lift the veil covering up the true face of the backward and repressive Taliban rule within Afghanistan.

    Our own organisation knows only too well the effects of discrimination and repression of women, given our experience of the Shah's regime and then the Islamic Republic of Iran. A recent report shows that Iran has one of the most male-dominated employment situations in the world: 9 out of 10 workers are men. And it is only a few weeks ago that a young woman in Iraqi Kurdistan, accused of having committed adultery, was butchered by the 'Islamic Movement' (a puppet of the Iranian Islamic government), her nose being cut off as a punishment. For many women in the Middle East, the Middle Ages have returned with a vengeance: many have had a glimmer or a brief experience of relative freedoms. Many have taken up the struggle for a democratic future by underground or open activities against their oppressors; thousands languish in jails or have been 'disappeared'. This is why we declare our whole-hearted solidarity with the Afghan women, and condemn the latest attack by Taliban forces on the women's rally in Pakistan.

    Dr Dara Mozhdehi