By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Why does the world put up with the Taliban?
More to the point, why do the people who live in the countries infested by the Taliban put up with these murderous thugs?
Last summer, the Taliban drew protests in Afghanistan when they publicly executed a young woman who had been accused of adultery.
The woman, in her 20s, was shot several times. The killing took place in the Parwan province, north of Kabul, the country’s capital.
The murder, captured on video, was widely condemned. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the top NATO military commander in Afghanistan, and a number of activist groups, denounced the execution.
But the video not only shows the killing, it also shows bystanders smiling and cheering as the woman is brutally murdered.
And therein lies much of the Taliban’s power. Fear and intimidation are certainly a factor. Quite possibly these onlookers cheered and smiled for fear they or their kin would be the Taliban thugs’ next targets.
But keep in mind Afghan society is a highly patriarchal one in which women are considered second-class citizens, at best.
This is a nation in which children are given up in marriage, where girls are given away to repay debts or to atone for crimes committed by their relatives.
And when a girl is found to have “disgraced” their families, for any number of reasons, they often are murdered by their relatives in so-called “honor” killings.
After the July execution, demonstrators took to the streets of Kabul, carrying signs reading “International community: Where is the protection and justice for Afghan women?” and chanting, “Death to those who did this act.”
And then the cameras were switched off, the calendar turned and the outcry faded away.
Until recently, when the Taliban once again reared its horrific head.
On Tuesday, the Taliban took up arms against one of its enemies, an activist who had spoken out against them for years despite their threats.
In this case, the Taliban’s sworn enemy is a 14-year-old Pakistani girl.
That would place her in middle school in this country, with her mind filled with algebra, history, science and boys.
But Malala Yousufzai has more important things to think about.
For years, she has stood up to the Taliban. When she was 11, she began writing a blog for the BBC about living under the extremist group’s repressive thumb.
She has campaigned for education for girls, something the Taliban strictly opposes, along with most other basic human rights for females.
At one point, she received Pakistan’s highest civilian honor.
On Tuesday a gunman arrived at Malala’s school, located near the border with Afghanistan, asking for her by name. When he found her sitting on a bus preparing to take her home, he opened fire, shooting Malala and two classmates. Malala was shot in the head.
Now she lies swaddled in bandages, unconscious in a military hospital. Her prognosis is guarded.
The Taliban proudly took responsibility for the shooting, claiming it was justified, calling Malala’s support of education for girls “pro-Western,” and citing her ongoing opposition to them. Oh, and the Taliban’s message added that if she survives and they get another chance, they will attack her again.
The world has again decried this act of senseless violence, even in a region of the world where violent acts are seemingly an everyday occurrence. Ordinary Pakistanis took to the streets to protest the attack. The Pakistani government has offered the equivalent of more than $100,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case. Imran Khan, a beloved former Pakistani cricket star turned politician, has offered to pay for her treatment.
But soon, the cameras will be switched off, the calendar will turn and the outcry will fade away.
In the meantime, American and coalition troops are fighting the Taliban in Afghan-istan, and U.S. remotely piloted aircraft often strike against Taliban militants in Pakistan. It happened again Thursday, and 16 militants died in the attack.
And the outcry went up — against us. And in Afgha-nistan, our troops are being killed when Afghan soldiers they have trained have turned on them.
When are the people in that part of the world going to wake up and realize we are not their enemy, but instead they should hate and fear their militant brothers, uncles, neighbors and friends?
In the meantime a 14-year-old girl lies unconscious in a hospital, fighting for her life, her penance for standing up for her gender.
“The time to root out terrorism has come,” said a member of the party that controls the province where Malala was shot.
No, that time has past. The time has come for the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and every other country the Tali-ban infests like roaches, to rise up and say, “no more,” and to turn what has been a safe haven for these murderous thugs into a land where they and their ilk are decidedly no longer welcome.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.