No announcement yet.

Notion of Honor in Domestic and Foreign Policy

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Notion of Honor in Domestic and Foreign Policy

    Did anyone see the National Geographic show mentioned in the article? How does one keep justifying this contorted sense of Honor? I find it incomprehensible, but then I am usually confused!


    It is natural for a citizen to assume a posture of self-righteousness when discussing foreign policy. When discussing domestic policy, however, the same citizen may be so negative as to sound despairing.
    We accept total lack of national honour in our domestic affairs but put it up as our prime condition for the conduct of foreign policy. Is this stance tenable?
    The National Geographic TV channel on 19 June 2002 showed a documentary of wife-burning and wife-mutilation in Pakistan. It was a difficult film to watch. From the tribal NWFP in the North to industrialised Karachi in the South, women were burnt and mutilated by their husbands and in-laws on various pretexts, mostly related to assumed infidelity and non-receipt of sufficient dowry. A social worker in Karachi rescued a badly burnt woman who was reluctant to lodge a case against the guilty in-laws. A US-based Pakistani doctor rescued a woman near Islamabad whose eyes were gouged out, nose cut and ears sliced off by a bearded religious husband because he thought ‘a man had entered the house’. The woman was ‘repaired’ by surgeons in America and sent back. The guilty husband against whom no charges were brought was finally brought to justice under international pressure and jailed for 14 years. All the cases shown in the film related to ‘honour’. Women were punished because they had brought dishonour to the husband and his family. The National Geographic interviewed General Musharraf and asked him why he didn’t do anything for the burnt women. He replied that he had no money for it. He was asked that if he had money for making nuclear weapons why did he not have it for the wronged women? He replied that the nuclear weapons and the missile systems were to allow Pakistan to live with honour and self-respect. Without the weapons system there would be no Pakistan.

    It is unfortunate that the wife-burners and General Musharraf both referred to honour as a basis for what they were doing. The husbands were busy safeguarding honour in the domestic domain; General Musharraf was busy safeguarding honour in the domain of foreign policy. It is tragic that foreign policy should be conducted at the cost of internal correction. In fact, the two had nothing to do with each other. General Musharraf should have been more careful in addressing the issue of maltreatment of women in Pakistan. He should have expressed sincere regret about what was going on inside Pakistan and not allowed himself to fall into the trap prepared by the interviewer. Maltreatment of women springs from social traditions, bad laws and lack of writ of the state. There is simply no excuse in holding the security of Pakistan responsible for the social evils of Pakistan. As for the world outside Pakistan, both honour-killing and nuclear weapons are wrong because Pakistan can ill-afford them and should be using reform and better strategy instead of aggressive defiance. The state can survive without nuclear weapons as many other states do, but it cannot survive without internal reform and restoration of the writ of the state. That’s why people increasingly think of nuclear weapons as a liability rather than as a source of strength and security.