The limited and cosmetic gains in women's rights in Afghanistan have not been introduced by bullets from U.S./NATO's guns, so the reduction of U.S./NATO troops will not compromise these initial gains.
Moreover, as many as 20,000 U.S./NATO troops will be authorized to stay for another 10 years beyond 2014 when a U.S. Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement is agreed upon within the next year. The Obama administration has already ensured the continued presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in Article number 6 of the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement which states that "Afghanistan shall provide U.S. forces continued access to and use of Afghan facilities through 2014, and beyond as may be agreed in The Bilateral Security Agreement, for the purposes of combating al-Qaeda and its affiliates, training the Afghan National Security Forces ( who are shooting back at them!), and other mutually determined missions to advance shared security interests.'
Where are Afghan women's rights in this strategy?
On March 14, 2011, the Washington Post featured Rajiv Chandrasekaran's article, "In Afghanistan, U.S. shifts strategy on women's rights as it eyes wider priorities' . Chandrasekaran recently made waves with his description of "the war within the Afghan war' in his new book Little America. In his 2011 article, he quoted a senior U.S. official who said, "Gender issues are going to have to take a back seat to other priorities. There's no way we can be successful if we maintain every special interest and pet project. All those pet rocks in our rucksack were taking us down."
What the senior U.S. official was saying was, "Women's rights? We have higher, "front-seat' priorities. Women's rights are 'pet rocks' that are 'taking us down.'"
Be friends, talk, and build'
"If you want to talk and build, it is impossible to start by fighting. When you kill a human being, what is there to build?"
"I have a pain and my husband and fellow Afghan citizens, men and women, share the pain with me. It is the pain of being treated as less than humans. We are human beings. We have wishes. War has brought this pain on us. War kills our joy and hides our tears."
"I dream that war will end in Afghanistan someday, so Afghans will exercise their right to live, study and work. Fighting brings hate and vengeful thoughts and feelings. I wish that the Shakespearean play could be performed in Afghanistan someday, though there's concern that there'll be trouble."
Part of Farzana's dream for the war to end will be enthusiastically pursued through the " 2 Million Friends' campaign for peace in Afghanistan, a campaign of Farzana and the Afghan Peace Volunteers to find "2 Million Friends' around the world to organize activities on December 10 calling for a ceasefire in Afghanistan and in remembrance of the 2 million Afghan victims of war they have lost over the past four decades. You could "Be One of 2 Million Friends' in signing a Petition to the U.N. to negotiate for a multilateral ceasefire in Afghanistan . No more killing!
Farzana calls out to our compassionate imagination, " Instead of fight, talk and build, I suggest, "Be friends, talk and build!'"