Postcolonial studies, December 2016, vol. 19 (4), pp. 409-426 .
This article argues that gender justice becomes a politicised issue in counterproductive ways in conflict zones. Despite claims of following democratic principles, cultural norms have often taken precedence over ensuring gender-sensitive security practices on the ground. The rightness of the ‘war on terror’ justified by evoking fear and enforced through colonial methods of surveillance, torture, and repression in counter-terrorism measures, reproduces colonial strategies of governance. In the current context, the postcolonial sovereign state with its colonial memories and structures of violence attempts to control women’s identities. This article analyses some of these debates within the context of Pakistan’s and Afghanistan’s security dynamics. It begins with the premise that a deliberate focus on the exclusion and limitation of women in Muslim and traditional societies sustains and reinforces the stereotypes of women as silent and silenced actors only. However, while the control of women within and beyond the nexus of patriarchal family'society'state is central to extremist ideologies and institutionalisation practices, women’s vulnerabilities and insecurities increase in times of conflict not only because of the action of religious forces, but also because of ‘progressive’, ‘secular’, ‘humanitarian’ interventions.