PESHAWAR: Participants of a seminar on Friday stated that militancy in the NWFP and Fata had increased intolerance in society which had badly affected the social and economic condition of women in the province.
Speakers said that women in general and working women in particular had to face numerous problems in carrying out their day-to-day activities, and in most cases they had to quit their jobs in the conflict affected areas.
The seminar — Situation of peace and security in Pakistan and its impact on women — was organised by the Aurat Foundation and was attended by members of civil society, lawyers, journalists and lawmakers.
Senior journalist Abdul Hayee Kakar said that people could rarely see any working women in the conflict-hit areas. The security situation had affected mobility of women in the province particularly in the Malakand region.
Mr Kakar, who has visited and covered most of the conflict-hit areas, stated that women attached with government and private sectors had mostly left their jobs. The education situation was also grim as nearly 300 schools mostly of females had been targeted in Malakand.
He pointed out that the agenda of the Taliban in Swat was different from those operating in Waziristan. In Swat they were mostly imposing their ideology on the common people through barbaric acts while Talibanisation in the tribal areas was mostly inter-linked with international jihad. He pointed out that so far around 22,000 ordinary people had been killed in acts of terror in the province.
“Scores of practices were adopted which directly affected the social and economic lives of females which included establishment of a marriage bureau for militants, forced marriages, banning of female education etc,” Mr Kakar said, adding that he had interviewed scores of girls who had fled Swat due to fear of forced marriages by the militants.
Saima Munir of the Aurat Foundation pointed out that their recent surveys conducted in D.I. Khan and Swat, the two areas which the security agencies claimed are now peaceful, showed that attendance of females in colleges was low as people feared that the militants could come back.
She pointed out that in D.I. Khan no public transport was available after evening which had affected various economic activities. “Large number of females attached to embroidery business had turned unemployed due to the prevalent situation there,” she said, adding that unemployment among males was also on the rise.
MPA Nargis Sameen called upon the government to take people into confidence about the prevalent situation and make it public “who is behind the lawlessness in the province?”
Shabeena Ayaz, resident director Aurat Foundation, called upon civil society groups to forge unity among their ranks so as to counter the threat to rights of individuals including females. She said that the media should properly highlight the situation so as to guide the general public about their role in the present situation.
Other speakers said that the government had been discriminating the internally displaced persons from Waziristan. They said that the government was allegedly punishing the entire Mehsud tribe for the deeds of the militants which affected large number of women and children in the tribal region.
They pointed out that due to security concerns, the media often could not report situation of the conflict-hit areas while sometimes media outlets, on the instructions of ‘invisible’ forces, glorify the militants.