Shankha Vishwajanin
Shankha Vishwajanin in Bengali

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions," a timeless proverb declares. The current situation in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is representative of what happens when genuinely bad intentions are perceived as good. When the movement gained momentum in September of 1994, the Taliban gave the world the impression that they had come to eliminate corruption and disorder in the Afghan state; today, as the Taliban harshen their grip over Afghanistan, its women become further distanced from suffrage, education, and career.

The Taliban claim that their movement began in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar. They hold that Kandahar was torn with violence in the past, and that their leader Mullah Mohammad Omar began the reform movement. However, contrary to such statements, existing evidence points to Pakistan as the originator of this potent military and political force. Indeed, while the Taliban soldiers are Afghans who studied in Pakistan during the Soviet War, the higher officials of the militia consist of former communistgovernment officials and puppets controlled by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Time Magazine (November 1996) itself presented stories of Pakistani involvement in the Taliban ordeal. It is believed that the Taliban were trained by the Frontier Constabulary, a para-military force of the Interior Ministry of Pakistan.

The Taliban have long advocated themselves as a group fighting corruption amongst the Mujahideen; their Islamic faith and "need to establish peace" in Afghanistan have been pillars of the movement. Reality, frighteningly, appears to be much different. As the Taliban's power has grown, that of Afghani women has lessened. Schools for girls have been shut down, and women have been banned from working. Afghani women have lost the right to vote, and even professionals, such as doctors, have lost their freedom. Women have been forced to cover themselves from head to toe; even the face is covered. Most shockingly, the Taliban have claimed that their actions have been in accordance with "Islamic Law." In reality, the exact opposite is true. The Muslim Women's League has spoken out against the Taliban, stating that many of their decrees are in "direct contradiction" to Islamic Law. The League has emphasized their belief that women were given rights in the Qur'an to contribute to the economy by owning and selling property 1400 years ago, "Men shall have a benefit from what they earn, and women shall have a benefit from what they earn (4:32)." The Muslim Women's League has voiced its opinion that "the current manipulation of women to serve geo-political interests in Afghanistan and elsewhere, is both unIslamic and inhumane."

And thus, once again, women are considered the timeless "Road to hell." Has it been paved with good intentions, or bad? And does it even matter at this point? As Indo-Americans, and more importantly, as humane Americans, mustn't we speak out against the injustice? Most importantly, mustn't we let the tragedy TOUCH our souls? In a world in which it is so easy to become desensitized; so easy to NOT feel - I believe we must let ourselves be hurt by this outrage. Only then may we even consider doing something about it - as long as our hearts are not open, our minds can never be. Indeed, the fearsome "Road to hell" will always exist - but, certainly, aren't bad intentions better than none at all.

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