Lieutenant Colonel Malalai Kakar, a senior Afghan policewoman, was shot to death by Taliban extremists on September 28th, near her home in Afghanistan's Kandahar province. Her 18-year-old son was gravely wounded in the attack. Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai called the attack an "act of cowardice" by Afghanistan's enemies.
Ronald Noble, Secretary General of the International Criminal Police Organization, INTERPOL, paid tribute to the courageous Afghan policewoman and to police officers everywhere who confront the threat of terrorism.
For millions of Afghan women, Malalai Kakar was a symbol of hope for a society where women's rights are protected by the rule of law. Daughter of a police officer, Malalai Kakar was the first woman to graduate from the Kandahar Police Academy. She joined the police force in 1982. Forced into exile by Taliban extremists, she returned to her job following the overthrow of the Taliban regime in 2001.
A mother of 6, she rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and headed a unit tasked with investigating crimes against women. She was the subject of the 2005 documentary film "Malalai" by filmmaker Polly Hyman.
Zieba Shorish-Shamley, Executive Director of the Woman's Alliance for Peace and Human Rights in Afghanistan, said an important factor in Colonel Kakar's effectiveness as a police officer was "how supportive her husband and her fellow police officers were of this woman working among them."
The United States strongly condemns the murder of Colonel Kakar. State Department Deputy Spokesman Robert Wood said, "This abhorrent crime is the latest example of the Taliban's deliberate targeting of Afghanistan's police officers bravely working to rebuild and secure their country." The U.S., said Mr. Wood, honors "the commitment and sacrifice of Malalai Kakar and all Afghan National Police officers working to build a peaceful, democratic, and safe Afghanistan."
Malalai Kakar sacrificed not only to protect her country, but also to protect women's rights by the rule of law. As one of the few women in the Afghan National Police, her tragic death is a great loss for both the country and all Afghan women who continue to struggle for equal rights.
As the unit leader of 10 policewomen specializing in domestic violence cases, she was uncompromisingly determined to hold abusers accountable for their actions. Malalai Kakar's leadership as a high-ranking female in the police force will remain an inspiration to all Afghans.