Last week, Iranian citizens took to the streets of Isfahan to protest a recent spate of violent acid attacks against women. Holding placards showing their solidarity with the victims, the peaceful protestors called for Iranian authorities to hold the attackers accountable.
We know that these kind of egregious attacks happen against women around the world, and I have spoken out before about incidents in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Women are often the drivers of economic growth and cultural change, but they are also often the targets of horrible violence.
What is especially troubling about the Isfahan attacks is that they follow the passage of a new law in Iranian parliament, which is reportedly “designed to protect those who correct people acting in an un-Islamic way.” It is the women, the survivors, who should be protected, not their attackers.
Even as the Administration continues to negotiate with the Iranian regime on nuclear issues, we cannot lose sight of the regime’s egregious human rights record. The Iranian government must take action – at both the local and federal levels – to hold accountable those hardliners who perpetrated these attacks and to reverse the legislative framework that protects these criminals.
On September 9th, I delivered a speech on Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Army War College. I was honored to address the student body in Carlisle which was made up of senior military officers from all services of the armed services, as well as from allied militaries in more than 50 countries.
Next month, we will enter the ninth year of our engagement in Afghanistan. In the speech, I outlined three main areas where we need to see progress in the near future: the fight against corruption at all levels in the country; the training of Afghan National Army and Police and the importance of the international development efforts, particularly in the field of agriculture. Each one of these elements are critical to our success in Afghanistan.
I also recognized the sacrifice of Pakistan in this conflict, especially in recent months. The Pakistani people have suffered greatly in the fight against extremism as well as from the devastating effects of the ongoing flood disaster. We must do all that we can to support sustained partnership with the people of Pakistan, a central theme of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill. Pakistan also has a crucial role to play in combating the flow of ammonium nitrate in Afghanistan, the deadly ingredient used in improvised explosive devices targeting our troops.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has lost 55 service members who gave what Lincoln called the “last full measure of devotion” to their country. I pray for their families and for ourselves, so that we may be worthy of their sacrifice on the field of battle. We have an obligation in the Senate to honor their memory through vigilant oversight of the war effort, and I look forward to honoring this solemn obligation during this challenging period that we face in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.