Malala means ‘grief stricken’.

Like most of us, I’ve been watching Malala Yousafzai’s unprecedented rise to international fame with admiration and when she was shot by the Taliban, abject horror.  Having been to Pakistan and literally ‘felt’ the subjugation and oppression of grown women in that country; the courage and bravery displayed by this young girl is nothing short of remarkable.  Pakistan is the sort of place where I felt the need to keep my head down and and stay on the windy side of car.  I wouldn’t stand up for myself if a stranger looked at me oddly here… let alone courting being targeted by the Taliban by defending girls’ rights to education.

Malala was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in March this year (2013) and was widely touted to be a favourite to be bestowed the award – which would have made Malala, the youngest recipient ever.  However it was ultimately awarded to the ‘Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ last week.  The Taliban was immediately in the international press saying they were ‘delighted’ that Malala, the young girl whom they still intend to kill, was overlooked for this honour.

Malala quote to taliban

“Even if there was a gun in my hand and he was standing in front of me, I would not shoot him [referring to the member of the Taliban that shot her in October of 2012].

This is the compassion I have learned from Mohamed, the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. This the legacy of change I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mohammed Ali Jinnah. This is the philosophy of nonviolence that I have learned from Gandhi, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa.

And this is the forgiveness that I have learned from my father and from my mother. This is what my soul is telling me: Be Peaceful and Love Everyone.”

– Malala Yousafzai

These men, and I use the term loosely, connected to the Taliban who continue to threaten to kill Malala, have a lot to learn from this little girl.

Hung but not drawn and quartered…. thankfully.

I came back from my trip to Pakistan in July last year and while I was there I bought a lovely Esfahan rug from central Iran…. which has been living ever since rolled up on the floor in my bedroom because I wasn’t sure how I wanted to hang it and I definitely didn’t want to sew a strip on it or anything that would cause damage to it.

So a couple of weeks ago I took it to a rug dealer in Brisbane called Urban Tribes and thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and have them do an insurance valuation and sew a strip on it for me to allow it to be hung up.  It was probably a pretty good sign that it was a nice rug when the staff all came out and started oohing and aahhing over it 🙂   The valuation came back with a nice surprise it is apparently valued at more than twice what I paid for it which is kinda cool.  You always get a little bit worried that you might get ripped off when shopping overseas.  Well I worry about it… especially in shopping environments that require bartering.  I hate bartering and would much prefer if they’d just give a fair price so I can decide if I want it or if can afford it.  Can’t stand the stuffing around and the time wasted going back and forth.  (Mr K is the exact opposite and I remember him arguing hard with some ladies in Indonesia over about 50c when I was buying sarongs!)

I picked up my rug last week and now it’s finally hanging on my wall and I must say it looks even better than I remember when I first bought it.  I can’t believe how well the colours in it go with my house – it’s like it was made for the place all burgundy, navy and gold/mustardy colours.  Normally you should do it the other way around – choose the rug (or artwork) and build up the decor around it, but I must have just gotten lucky I guess.

See abeekay ?  I’m trying hard to look for positives already … though admittedly they are ones from 15mths ago!  🙂

I never knew there were people out there that I could despise more than pedophiles.

Being so distant, I’ve never really become wrapped up in Middle Eastern politics, and never really had strong personal feelings about terrorism in general.  Even when I traveled to Pakistan and found myself in a security lockdown due to threat of possible Taleban or Al Queda attacks I knew those attacks to be aimed at the local military which had nothing to do with me personally.  That doesn’t mean to say I’ve ever sympathized with terrorist motives or methods, but I guess in my mind their attempts to enoble their cause with a certain skewed perception of religious righteousness must have taken some small root… even though I absolutely believe them to be positively and undeniably fundamentalist lunatics.  I mean to say that I believe your average fundamentalist terrorist has been bought up in a determinedly bigoted environment and those individuals are products of those insidious environments of hatred, so in some ways I’ve always felt there is a miniscule amount of diminished responsibility here… they can’t always help what they’ve become if they’ve never known any other way. 

But these recent bombings are callow, calculated and opportunistic in a way that I can’t imagine anyone could honestly say elevates their cause or their religious superiority/righteousness.  How could anyone do something like this… ??  It’s one thing for a person cognizant of their actions to purposefully martyr themselves for a cause they believe in (no matter how fucked up that cause is) and it is another thing entirely to take advantage of the mental impairment of innocent people to do your dirty work…


Twin bombs kill scores in Baghdad

More than 70 people have been killed by two bombs in Baghdad, attached to two mentally disabled women and detonated remotely, says a security official.

“The al-Qaeda terrorists and criminals are proud of this method,” Brig Qassem Ata al-Moussawi told the BBC. The death toll in Friday morning’s attacks at two animal markets was the highest in months in Baghdad. Correspondents say a fragile sense of normality had returned to the capital following an influx of US troops.  Security has improved significantly since the US implemented its troop “surge” in the second half of 2007.   A ceasefire announced in August by the Mehdi Army militia of Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, as well as the emergence of local Sunni militia armed by the US military that took on al-Qaeda in Iraq, have also contributed to the sense of security. Figures released by Iraqi ministries on Friday suggested that the number of civilians and security forces killed across Iraq in January – 541 – was the lowest monthly total for nearly two years.

An Iraqi soldier stands beside the shoes of dead and wounded from Friday's Ghazil market blast, 1 February 2008
The popular market is always crowded

Confidence shattered
But that renewed confidence could be shattered by Friday’s deadly bombings, the worst to hit the Iraqi capital since three car bombs killed 80 people last 1 August.    The blasts came shortly before the call to Friday prayers when many Iraqis were out shopping or meeting friends.  The first device was detonated by a female suicide bomber at around 1020 local time (0720GMT) in the popular Ghazil animal market, killing at least 46 people and injuring a further 80.  A popular spectacle for Baghdadis, the animal market only opens on Fridays and regularly draws large crowds, despite having been targeted by bombers twice in 2007.

The operation was carried out by two booby-trapped mentally disabled women

Brig Qassem Ata al-Moussawi
Iraqi security forces spokesman

Just 20 minutes after the first explosion, a second bomb tore through another crowded market in the Jadida area of east Baghdad, killing at least 27 people and injuring 67.    Iraqi security forces spokesman Brig Moussawi told the BBC: “The operation was carried out by two booby-trapped mentally disabled women. [The bombs] were detonated remotely. 

“Forensic and bomb squad experts as well as the people and traders of al-Shorja area of the carpet market have confirmed that the woman who was blown-up there today was often in the area and was mentally disabled… “In the New Baghdad area the shop owners and customers of the pet market confirmed that the woman who was blown-up there was mentally disabled as well.”
The US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, said al-Qaeda had found a “different, deadly” technique.  “There is nothing they won’t do if they think it will work in creating carnage and the political fallout that comes from that,” he said.

Police and medical officials piled the dead and injured into wheelbarrows, cars and the back of pick-up trucks to be transported to five hospitals across the city.  An official at the capital’s Kindi hospital said at least 30 bodies had been received.  “We have a disaster here,” he said. “There are too many bodies to count.”

Map of Baghdad city
June 2006 – Four killed by two bombs left in bags
Dec 2006 – Three killed in mortar attack
26 Jan 2007 – 15 killed by bomb hidden in box of birds
23 Nov 2007 – 13 killed in attack blamed on Iranian-backed Shia militants

Get the fuck out of there as fast as you can.

This is where I spent my last holiday.  On my way home from Turkey, I went via Pakistan to visit with MD who is posted at Staff College in Quetta for the year. He’s set to come home in days… literally he has about 5 days to go before he ships out and comes back to the first world.  Over the last few months, and particularly since the Red Mosque siege in July, he’s been telling me alarming stories about bombs going off in the middle of the night and the stories have gotten increasingly close to home… home being Street 4 on the Cantonment.  We were in security lockdown while I was there, and I imagine that level of security pales into insignificance compared to what he’s experiencing at the moment, as  this is the worst  and closest one yet  – these actually went off inside the cantonment.  The checkpoints in questions are about as far away from MD’s house as my local shop, which is way too close for comfort if you ask me. 


Suicide bombs rock Pakistani city
Last Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007, 14:35 GMT
At least eight people including five soldiers have died in two suicide bombings in the south-western Pakistani city of Quetta, officials say. Emergency personnel at the scene of the blasts told the BBC that 18 people had been injured. They said the bombs went off near two checkpoints close to a military area on the outskirts of the city. Officials said many of the injured were in a critical condition and were being taken to hospital.

Pakistani troops in Quetta


The army has been frequently targeted in suicide attacks

Bombings and shootings

“A suicide bomber blew himself up at the checkpost and a little later, when some civilian vehicles gathered at the spot, another suicide bomber blew himself up,” military spokesman Maj Gen Waheed Arshad said.   “This is the first time that a suicide attack has taken place in this part of the city,” he told a private television channel.  “There were two people involved in the attack.”   Maj Gen Arshad said that the bodies of the bombers had been recovered.   Officials said the area had been sealed off by the security forces.

Correspondents say it is not clear who is behind the attacks, which come just two days before President Musharraf is due to lift the state of emergency which he imposed last month.  The president argued the measure was in part necessary to curb Islamic militancy which he said was destabilising Pakistan.

The army has been frequently targeted in suicide attacks since July, when President Musharraf ordered troops to raid the radical Red Mosque in Islamabad that had been occupied by militants. More than 100 people were killed in the fighting, most of them militants. Quetta – which is close to the Afghan border – has regularly been hit by bombings and shootings.



Low-key insurgency

Earlier this year a captured Taleban spokesman allegedly told Afghan intelligence that the Taleban leader, Mullah Omar, was living in the city under the protection of Pakistan‘s ISI intelligence agency.

Correspondents say that there are regular reports of Taleban insurgents operating in the province of Balochistan – of which Quetta is the capital – despite the government’s denials.   In February, police said that at least 15 people were killed in a suicide attack in the city.   Earlier this month there was also a bomb at an Islamic religious school in Balochistan, which officials said killed six people.

Balochistan has also been hit by a low-key insurgency waged by Baloch nationalists seeking greater autonomy.   Two weeks ago top Baloch militant leader Balaach Marri was killed, allegedly by the security forces.   This has led to an increase in attacks on the security forces.   But observers believe the mode of the latest attack rules out the involvement of the rebels and that pro-Taleban militants are the main suspects.

Taleban supporters in Quetta

The Taleban have always enjoyed some support in Quetta


Couldn’t give a shit Jones.

That mess at the Red Mosque is all over red rover and it finished exactly as everyone had expected it to…. with brute force and the instigators all dead.  I honestly just don’t get it.  Maybe it’s cos I lack conviction…..  I have no overwhelmingly strong beliefs in anything for the most part – and I especially don’t have any burning verve on the political or religious fronts.   I have always thought was what made me intrinsically a fairly accepting and not overly judgmental kind of person…. and am fairly tolerant of how people chose to live their lives…. but maybe the truth is that lacking conviction just makes you apathetic. 

I certainly don’t have enough faith in anything that I feel strongly enough about it to want to die for it.  Cant imagine any scenario where martyrdom could possibly be more appealing than … oh say…. living.  😐   I have only a handful of very religious friends and I vaguely remember a time only a few years ago when in some ways I used to envy them their faith…  maybe it is cos I’d certainly like to be able to believe that the things that happen in our lives occur according to some grand destined plan, rather than what I have an inkling is actually the way it rolls out… that there’s no one/thing out there that actually gives a fat rats arse whether we even so much as continue to exist tomorrow, let alone worrying about our eternal well being and happiness.

Religion has always been the time honored method of controlling the populace when the law was either distant or ineffectual… shrug… but now we live in an environment that legislates every tiny little thing in our lives, right down to where a man’s dog can take a crap…. is there any real point to….. 

… fuck it… i really don’t care!  Who am I kidding… I wouldn’t even be reading these articles if MD wasn’t there.