Since 2001, the US and Pakistan have been, ostensibly, allies in the struggle against Islamic extremists. The reconstructed government of neighboring Afghanistan is also, again ostensibly, our ally. So how is it that the Pakistanis are allowing the Taliban in the northwest part of their country to impose Islamic law (or, at least, their narrow interpretation of it)? If anyone thinks this will a) placate the Taliban and/or b) be in any way compatible with republican democracy, well, I have a couple of towers in lower Manhattan I’d like to sell you.
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, presided over by that esteemed statesman and force for progressivism Hamid Karzai, a court has upheld 20-year sentences for two men for translating the Koran. You read that right, while prosecutors wanted the death penalty, the official court system of Afghanistan (not some tribal court or some Sharia kangaroo court) has sentenced this pair to two decades in prison, not for desecrating the Koran, not for contradicting it, but simply for the crime of translating it into Persian from the original Arabic. And lest we forget, it was our ally Afghanistan that sentenced a man to death for apostasy from Islam. After much diplomatic string-pulling in back rooms, the man was declared incompetent, and when he cast about for asylum outside his native Afghanistan, who came to his rescue? The freedom loving United States? Nope. Italy. How embarrassing for us.
I realize that progressive, pro-Western factions in both Afghanistan and Pakistan must walk a fine line. But it’s an uncomfortable fact that at some point, that line must be drawn and defended, and what results won’t be pretty. But it’ll be the right thing to do.