In the autumn of 05, I had written a ST article based on an email from an Aftab Khan, in which he had asked, 'Do we really care?' Mr. Khan had written that the serious crisis facing Pakistan was due to: 'Poor leadership and lack of creative vision, the paralysis of the institutions and society, disintegration of discipline and social character, ethnicity differences and erosion of moral values'. He had further added: 'The calculus of power has deepened this crisis further and this has rendered the social order and the administrative system, amoral, cynical and perverse. Therefore, our march forward towards mass welfare, democratic participation, self-reliance, impartial justice and a clean and efficient administration has been effectively blocked'. And in November 08, Elliot Wilson had asked the question in an article, 'Should we care?': 'Britain cannot afford a failed Pakistan and barring a mammoth bail-out, it will become the world's first bankrupt nuclear power'. 'Britain should focus its mind on this country, which is inextricably linked to Pakistan. Its implosion would stoke extremism in Britain. Bowed down by our own financial crisis and an economy teetering on the edge of recession, should we care?' The article had also highlighted the quality of our leadership or the lack of it and is very critical of the state of governance, something that has been under discussion for the last two decades. ( That was last year and one had hoped that after a devastating year, politics in Pakistan would change for the better and our leaders and civil society would finally wake up. But once again that has not been the case and as Mr. Cowasgee has asked in his last article, 'When will we wake up?' When indeed? The attitude of most of our cigar puffing leaders and pillars of society, whose forefathers were the pioneers in establishing the business community in Pakistan, has always been, WHO CARES But now, after watching the videos of the beheading of the Polish engineer and the flogging of a seventeen year old girl by the Taliban, screaming and begging for mercy, the nation will hopefully wake up to the dangers of the March of the Taliban. The local media had picked up the story of the flogging on 3rd April and since then the government, human and women's rights activists and civil society members have gone into high gear, with howls of protest and indignation, all condemning the barbaric flogging. There have been daily demonstrations and protests all over the country and even Bhai Altaf had expressed his anger and fury and sobbed into the phone from London and demanded that the culprits should be 'publicly hanged'. Meanwhile, the President and PM have also denounced this shocking incident and announced the usual inquiry, while the rejuvenated CJ has also sprung in to action, as expected, and taken suo motu action and summoned the members of the NWFP government and give a report to his court. But the Taliban have defended the punishment, while the NWFP government has stated that the video is a fake and airing it was a deliberate attempt to 'sabotage' the peace deal in Swat, which itself has become controversial and seems to be on the verge of collapse. Many feel that it has compromised the writ of the government and is like sleeping with the enemy No doubt, we must applaud, appreciate and support every sob, voice and action that is taken against those who are involved in these atrocities, but this is not the first time that such barbaric acts have been carried out in Pakistan. Just last month, a similar flogging of a seventy five year old Syrian woman was ordered by the Saudi Court, but there were no sobbing men and women or howls of protest or condemnation from our out raged civil society. Such double standards and playing to the galleries must end. Human and Women's Rights activists have repeatedly begged for the amendments and changes in the Hudood and Honor Killings Ordinance and Laws, but our leaders, who are the first to condemn these atrocities, remain unmoved and the recommendations to these laws lie in a dark, damp cellar, gathering dust. And to add salt to the bleeding wounds of women, we have men who have participated in jirgas that have been banned by the SC and are directly guilty of these heinous crimes. And instead of being punished, they have been rewarded for their 'loyalty to the Great Caesar' and appointed as senators and ministers. They are addressed as the 'Hon. Minister', display the national flag on their cars and are invited to talk shows, where they defend their action by stating that, 'they are centuries-old traditions and tribal customs which cannot be disturbed' Then there is the sad and tragic story of the rape of Mukhtarran Mai, a brave lady who was humiliated and physically abused in front of the entire village, but there were none who had the courage to come to her defense or stop the shameful act. Even the Supreme Court and the government had turned their backs on the devastated and ravaged lady and refused to listen to her cries for justice. Finally, after years of struggle, she had knocked on the doors of the International community, who had responded whole-heartedly and overnight, she became the Joan of Arc of Pakistan. But even now, despite all the publicity, the plight of women has not improved. Mukhtarran Mai has now become a human rights activist and has accused the Federal Minister of State of pressuring her to withdraw the case against her rapists. Such atrocities and horrors are committed in the name of so called 'HONOR' through out Pakistan almost every day, with the full knowledge of the authorities, but only a few are reported. In most cases, the perpetrators use the LEA for these heinous crimes, who then refuse to even register a FIA or take action against those responsible. If our leaders are truly concerned in protecting the rights and honour of our women, then instead of just protests and commendations, all they have to do is pick up that pen and scribble their names across the changes and amendments of the Hudood and Honour killing laws. It is as simple as that. But then, do we really care? And who has the courage and the guts to stand up against the March of the Taliban, as it is much easier and simpler to 'Cry me a River' and shed crocodile tears then to paddle against the tide. E-mail: