M T Butt
June 23: In one of the most humiliating snubs to the hot-headed
Pakistani General Pervez Musharraf, US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice has personally intervened to ensure that
Musharraf makes his latest U-Turn, this time on the popular
issue of allowing gang rape victim Mukhtaran Mai to visit
had just recently claimed during his Australian tour that
he himself had stopped Mai from leaving Pakistan because he
could not allow any one to damage Pakistan’s image abroad.
Mai, he said, was going to bad mouth Pakistan, pushed by western
NGOs, which he had equated with terrorist organizations.
was the most undiplomatic and most ill considered statement
Musharraf had made as what he actually did was damage Pakistan’s
image many times more than what Mai could have done,”
a Foreign Office source told the South Asia Tribune.
“But Musharraf speaks without thinking and now it has
become a trend that he shoots from the hip whenever he gets
trapped into a corner. That damages Pakistan.”
Secretary Rice’s intervention has come in such a forceful
manner that Musharraf and his officials are now looking for
excuses and cover under any fig leaf as they have been made
to eat humble pie with the entire world shocked watching their
“Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice secured a personal
pledge from Pakistan that gang rape victim Mukhtaran Mai will
be allowed to visit the United States,” US officials
said on Tuesday. Rice's personal intervention came after The
New York Times reported that the Pakistani Government
still had Mukhtaran’s passport, despite lifting a ban
on her traveling last week.
Unnerved Pakistani officials were embarrassingly claiming
there had been no US pressure in the case of Mukhtaran, something
which adds insult to injury and reflects the stark helplessness
of the Pakistani junta when faced with pressure from Washington.
This Pakistani lie was nailed instantly by State Department
deputy spokesman Adam Ereli, who said on Tuesday the issue
was raised last Thursday by Rice, in a telephone call with
Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri.
"Secretary Rice made it clear that the Mai was welcome
to come to the United States at any time and that we were
looking to the Government of Pakistan to ensure that she was
free to travel whenever she wanted," he said.
"The Government of Pakistan has committed itself to that
and therefore it is our expectation that should the Mai want
to travel, to come to the United States, there will be no
obstacles presented to her to do so," Ereli said.
Mukhtaran’s case arose again on Tuesday when New
York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote his second
op-ed in a week on the subject, stating that initially he
may have been wrong by calling Musharraf “nuts”
but when the Pakistani General admitted that he personally
stopped Mai from going abroad, the General had proved that
he actually had gone nuts.
The childish manner in which the military rulers tried to
fool the world by announcing that Mai had been put off the
Exit Control List but at the same time they confiscated her
passport was blasted by New York Times.
The same issue was raised by Condoleezza Rice with Kasuri.
But a senior State Department official said on condition of
anonymity that US officials believed that one of Mukhtaran’s
minders or bodyguards had her passport.
"Whoever has her passport, there is not going to be any
obstacle to her traveling to the United States," the
official said. "Her freedoms, and her rights and well
being are what we are concerned about and we are going to
act to protect those."
The claim that Mai’s passport was with her bodyguard
was another of the lowly tricks Musharraf’s men played.
While they were claiming that the passport had been returned,
Mai herself was on air with world famous human rights activist
Amy Goodman on “Democracy Now” Radio
and TV channel in US saying her passport was still with the
Full Text of Amy Goodman's Interview or Listen on Real Audio
next trick in the bag of these out of control Pakistani men
is to use the courts to keep Mai in Pakistan. The Supreme
Court suddenly has decided to hear her case and Mai told Ami
Goodman she will have to stay in Pakistan to fight her legal
battles in the highest court of the country.
the Supreme Court is also in a tight corner. If they let go
the rapists of Mai, Pakistan’s image will be damaged
beyond repair and it will then be interesting to see how Musharraf
reacts to that damage.
the Supreme Court convicts the rapists, Mai would have successfully
challenged and won against the men and the system that violated
her. She would then visit the US with an additional pride
that her country’s judicial system did work for her.
it is just beyond the vision and capacity of the Generals
to think about such a scenario.
the court decides, Mai has now become an international celebrity
and whenever she visits Washington, she will definitely be
a guest of President George Bush at the White House.
would then have to thank the hot-headed General Musharraf
for making it possible by issuing stupid statements.