Ah, Those Liberated Muslims!
All throughout the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Pakistan's impoverished western border with Afghanistan, lie the ruins of barbershops and music and video stores – symbols of Western-oriented life that religious extremists have destroyed in a growing wave of violence.Of course you can't keep women oppressed if you give them the confidence that comes with education. Of course you can't swagger around like the dish I saw once in a Thai restaurant -- it was called King Prick -- if women aren't given any option to stay with you.
Now Islamist militants have a new target, and if they are successful, observers say their campaign could be disastrous for Pakistan's future.
In what appears to be an escalating spree over the last year, extremists have bombed at least four girls' schools and circulated violent threats warning girls to stay at home. While no girls or school staff have been killed, girls in some areas have stopped attending classes – marking a direct blow to Pakistan's national enterprise of "enlightened moderation," which posits female education as a central pillar. ...
Pakistan has one of the highest rates of female illiteracy in South Asia, at about 60 percent, and the lowest rate of primary school enrollment for girls, at somewhere between 42 and 48 percent. Those shortcomings are particularly pronounced in the NWFP, which, as of 2004, had the lowest ratio of female enrollment of any province in Pakistan, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG). In areas like the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), where the government's presence has historically been weakest, only 1 percent of women and girls are literate. (CBS)
The Pakistani government is pushing for reforms that would move the country up to ... oh ... the mid-1800s, especially in the NFWP, where 70 percent of the education development budget has been allocated to girls' schools, resulting in the opening of more than 300 primary and middle schools for girls in the region in the last three years.
And of course the Islamists, being the ones who are closer to the heart of Islam, respond with bombs.