India Uncut

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Never mind the PR, here's the real Pakistan

Sometimes it doesn't feel that we're in the 21st century after all. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times is rightly aghast at the manner in which Mukhtaran Bibi (or Mukhtar Mai), the lady who was gang-raped in Pakistan last year, and whose assailants were recently released, is being treated by the Pakistan government. He tells us:
On Thursday, the authorities put Ms. Mukhtaran under house arrest - to stop her from speaking out. In phone conversations in the last few days, she said that when she tried to step outside, police pointed their guns at her. To silence her, the police cut off her land line.

After she had been detained, a court ordered her attackers released, putting her life in jeopardy. That happened on a Friday afternoon, when the courts do not normally operate, and apparently was a warning to Ms. Mukhtaran to shut up. Instead, Ms. Mukhtaran continued her protests by cellphone. But at dawn yesterday the police bustled her off, and there's been no word from her since. Her cellphone doesn't answer.

Asma Jahangir, a Pakistani lawyer who is head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said she had learned that Ms. Mukhtaran was taken to Islamabad, furiously berated and told that President Pervez Musharraf was very angry with her. She was led sobbing to detention at a secret location. She is barred from contacting anyone, including her lawyer.

"She's in their custody, in illegal custody," Ms. Jahangir said. "They have gone completely crazy."

Even if Ms. Mukhtaran were released, airports have been alerted to bar her from leaving the country. According to Dawn, a Karachi newspaper, the government took this step, "fearing that she might malign Pakistan's image."
Later in his piece Kristof quotes Jahangir as saying, "This is all because they think they have the support of the U.S. and can get away with murder." Excuse me, but that's something new?

Also read: Nitin Pai and Secular-Right India on this issue.
amit varma, 8:11 AM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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