The MMA in Pakistan is having a hard time. Failing on all sorts of initiatives, this loose consortium of Islamic-law political parties is reduced to beating up women when they show up as participants at marathons.
Initially the MMA claimed it was the fact that they didn’t want their “sisters and sisters-in-law” running around the country in their t-shirts and knickers. So when the women showed up in the traditional salwar kameez and wearing high heels, the MMA retreated to another tack: no running with men. When that didn’t work, they got down to it: no running at all for women, not even during the Haji rites.
The MMA is fighting a rear-guard action in Pakistan. They have tried in various ways to throw a spanner into President Musharraf’s alliance with the United States and his determination to bring Pakistan into the 19th century. Failing politically, they have entered into cultural mode, beginning with women’s participation in public life.
They have succeeded in defeating attempts to repeal the Islamic penal provisions that date from the 1980’s. Thus, a woman still needs four men to testify for her when she’s raped. They’ve also been successful in defeating Musharraf’s attempts to repeal blasphemy laws. But they failed to stop bus service into Kashmir and they are in crisis since the government has begun negotiating with Benazir Bhutto’s PPP. If Musharraf can bring off a successful negotiation, it will end his dependence on the MMA for parliamentary strength.
Here’s one way to look at it: when you see pictures of the police beating up women runners, you know whoever is behind it is on the losing side. This is a picture of desperate measures. It is only a matter of time till time catches up with them.
Welcome to the modern world, guys.
Here are the news items (dating back to April 2005) used as background for this post:
Pakistani Police Clash With Demonstrators
Pakistan’s Hard-Line Islamists
Races Turn Into FIght for Pakistani Women’s Rights