It’s a cautionary tale for President Obama, eager as he is to ‘win’ the war in Afghanistan, and keep the corrupt, discredited Karzai puppet regime in power:
Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, the student journalist sentenced to death for blasphemy in Afghanistan, has been told he will spend the next 20 years in jail after the country’s highest court ruled against him – without even hearing his defence.
The 23-year-old, brought to worldwide attention after an Independent campaign, was praying that Afghanistan’s top judges would quash his conviction for lack of evidence, or because he was tried in secret and convicted without a defence lawyer. Instead, almost 18 months after he was arrested for allegedly circulating an article about women’s rights, any hope of justice and due process evaporated amid gross irregularities, allegations of corruption and coercion at the Supreme Court. Justices issued their decision in secret, without letting Mr Kambaksh’s lawyer submit so much as a word in his defence.
Propping up a regime which behaves like this, which covertly tramples on women’s rights and indulges in the worst excesses of Islamic law is just unthinkable. Obama should attack this unacceptable breach of Kambaksh’s human rights, and make it clear to Karzai that in the post-Bush era he’s going to have to make some very fundamental choices. The Bush Administration was indifferent to such behaviour as long as the regime was ‘on-side’ with the ‘war’ on terror – such false choices cannot go on.