One of the leading English newspapers carried a report on Dec 19 that the American drone attacks are leaving irremovable mark on the health and psyche of the people in Pakistan. The US claims, says the report, that it’s no-more-covert drone campaign that is effective in fighting al-Qaeda and their cohorts, but it has unleashed a reign of terror in the tribal region. According to a September 2012 US study, US drone strikes in Pakistan have killed far more civilians than the US has acknowledged. The study by Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law called for re-evaluation of the strategy, saying the number of ‘high-level’ targets killed as a percentage of total casualties was extremely low – about 2 percent, according to CNN.

The same paper that carried this report wrote in its editorial the same day on a similar issue, referring to the Kashmiri women’s plight. The editorial says it seems that while our country is trapped in a myriad of problems from all sides, we have forgotten about the women of Kashmir and the problems they have faced as a result of Indian repression. Unfortunately, in the war-trodden region, women are now experiencing extra hardships due to the stress and the after-effects of war and infertility as well as stress due to cultural pressure. The Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science, based in Srinagar, conducted a study finding that of 112 young and adolescent women who suffered from polycystic ovarian syndrome — a condition that can cause infertility along with a host of other reproductive symptoms — roughly 65 to 70 percent of them suffered from psychiatric illnesses such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. These women who were forced to face war should not be neglected and the state of Jammu and Kashmir is requested to provide them the necessary psychological and medical support, such as counseling and fertility treatments. Kashmiri men, women and children continue to face daily trauma in the face of several hundred thousand Indian soldiers deployed in the Valley.

Though Afghanistan has reportedly made some progress in using the law to protect women against violence, but many still suffer horrific abuse despite 11 years of Western intervention. According to a UN assessment, which came a day after a senior women’s rights official was shot dead, opens with the tragic death of a child bride who set herself on fire after repeated beatings from her husband and his father. The attacks by desperate armed soldiers on innocent women and children out of frustration have caused fear, stress and psychological problems leading to fertility issues. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission recorded more than 4,000 cases of violence against women from March 21 to October 21, but most were not reported. In contrast, during the 12-month period that the UN reviewed, police and prosecutors in the provinces recorded only 470 incidents. Indictments were filed in 163 of the cases, or about 35 percent, the report said. Only 72 of the indictments were based on violations of the elimination of violence against women law. But of those, more than 70 percent resulted in convictions, the report said. Violence in all its forms and manifestations has to be opposed and condemned and at every level. It is necessary to build healthy society as well as a peaceful world.

SHUMAILA RAJA,

Lahore, December 20.