Mon, 21 Jun 2021

Amsterdam [Netherlands], May 15 (ANI): The deadly Kabul school blasts and the attempted 'terrorist attack' on former Maldives President Mohammed Nasheed points to an era of eroding adherence to democratic practices and slackening respect for human rights in South Asia, said a European think tank.

"As barbaric and inhuman as last week's attack on a girl's school in Kabul therefore was, what made it even more heartrending was the scale of the devastation that resulted, the section of the Afghan population that was deliberately chosen as the target, the depressing history that girls and women in the war-ravaged country have had to endure, and most importantly the implications and the prognosis for the prospects of this highly vulnerable half of Afghanistan's population," said the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS).

This comes after three explosions took place near Sayed-ul-Shuhada High School in the west of Kabul earlier this month. As many as 63 people, all students, were killed in a Kabul school bombing and 150 more were woundedNoting that Afghanistan has been embroiled in intense violence and brutality for decades by terrorist groups, the incident of attack has nevertheless shaken the country, with the country's Independent Human Rights Commission demanding an investigation by the United Nations (UN).

"Yet again, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters - and an entire community - spent the night collapsed in grief". It added, "Why were school children killed? Why were their dreams, and the hopes of their parents, turned to dust? For what purpose? To whose benefit? With whose support? These questions must be answered. Afghans suffer horrific incidents of loss repeatedly, and are left with unanswered questions," it said.

The attack took place in Kabul's Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood, which is home to many members of the ethnic Hazara minority group, who are mostly Shia Muslims. This has led to the neighbourhood being subject to several attacks by Sunni terrorist groups.

The incident has sparked outrage in the international community, as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack and expressed his deepest sympathies to the victims' families and to the Afghan government and people.

The attack was also condemned by Pope Francis and India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

EFSAS also noted that Afghan women's rights over the past 20 years have been considerable, underscoring that since the 2001 US invasion that overthrew the Taliban, Afghan women have emerged out of repression and made their mark in a wide range of fields, from politics to economics.

"With the impending US departure from Afghanistan, there is a real danger that the freedoms and rights that the women enjoy now will be severely curtailed and their meaningful contribution to society and the economy will be made redundant against their will," the think tank said.

It also urged that the US should not look away from the plight that awaits the Afghan people, especially the women, even if it is withdrawing from the country.

On the Maldives and the attempted assassination on Nasheed, EFSAS noted that the former President of the country is one the most consistent and unwavering torchbearers of democracy in the region.

"He has also been a vociferous critic of extremism and terrorism. His western views and liberal policies have come in for criticism by religious hard-liners in the Maldives," it said.

Nasheed was about to enter his car when when an improvised explosive device mounted on a parked motorcycle was detonated remotely by terrorists. Nasheed was severely wounded in the explosion and was rushed to hospital. He is now out of danger.

Reacting to this, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, a long-time friend of Nasheed, said in a televised address that the assassination attempt was "an attack on democracy and the Maldivian economy".

India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also expressed deep concern at the attack and said that Nasheed "will never be intimidated". (ANI)

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