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A Return to Stoning Won't Help the Effort to Rebrand Afghanistan

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy
November 25, 2013
Defense One


Even as a group of diplomats and advocates tries to shift the storyline on Afghanistan to focus on the gains the country has logged this past decade, a blast from the country's brutal past has resurfaced to further complicate already difficult US-Afghan relations: Stoning may once again become the law.

"It is absolutely shocking that 12 years after the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration might bring back stoning as a punishment," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch in a press release. Added his colleague Heather Barr in an interview: The "Karzai government cannot think that an effort like this can go ahead unnoticed and without a response from international actors."

The proposed penal code change to make adultery punishable by stoning comes as the Afghan grand assembly known as the loya jirga okayed a U.S.-Afghanistan security deal hashed out over months of diplomatic wrangling. The agreement paves the way for up to 15,000 troops to remain in the country. But Afghan President Hamid Karzai surprised U.S. diplomats by saying he wanted to wait until next year to sign it.

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