WASHINGTON DC, Sept 19, 2005 | ISSN: 1684-2057 | www.satribune.com

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Musharraf and the Business of Getting Raped

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

LONDON, September 19: Pakistan's commando president General Pervez Musharraf has ceased to enjoy the concession often extended to him that most of his off-the-cuff utterances do not mean what he says since he is a military man and all men in uniform are not gifted with virtues of wisdom. Since they belong to the trigger-happy clan of sons-of-a-gun, they believe that their might is right.

On top of many issues of national importance that form the much ambitious agenda taken upon by him to seek, is to paint "softer" image of Pakistan so that the world has a better and more positive view of a country run by a military dictator. One cannot blame him for it since slang is the normal lexicon with the soldiers, perhaps he cannot grasp the difference between softer image and soft porn and has got mixed up with it as shown by his defence of the rape of Mukhtaran Mai.

In short, in his interview to Washington Post, he justified as to how and why Pakistan under his so-called rule of "enlightened moderation" has become "Rapistan" where a woman is raped every two-and-half hour -- described by him as the on-going lucrative business among Pakistani women to seek "Canadian passport" and to make money. Thank Allah for His generous mercies, that our Don Quixote spared some respect for our female folk by not putting it bluntly that they enjoy "it" too.

To add insult and injury to the national honor, his propagandists claim that traumatic victims such as Mukhtaran Mai, Dr Shazia Khalid and Sonia Naz, who have bravely dared to expose the rapacious crime against female dignity, are nothing but pawns in the hands of NGOs with foreign links who allegedly receive enormous funds from abroad and quite a few of them are accused to be working for the "enemies" of Pakistan to give the country a bad name.

Obviously, in this allegation, either direct or indirect, inference was towards the so-called "Hunood-and-Yahud" (Hindu-Jewish) conspiracy. Now the government sponsored "Hunood-and-Yahud" inference orchestration will go out of fashion since the General is out there, hands folded on bended knees, tooth-paste ad smile running berserk on his face, seeking good relations with India and Israel at all costs and mostly for his personal gains.

He must have understood the message latent in President Bush's special praise for India in his UN address while there was no mention of the country that has become the front line state for American war of terror under its Knight Templar. He had sanguine reasons to go out of the way to grab the "historic" handshake opportunity with Israeli Prime Minister Aerial Sharon since he has the key to many vitally important doors in Washington.

The General also explained to Washington Post it was vital for both national and international interests not to denude himself of his Khaki. It facilitated him in successfully conducting the affairs of the state and that "he had not ruled out keeping it on past 2007".

In a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement that "a president cannot be a president in uniform, and should not be", he said his keeping it on was imperative for meeting challenges of both domestic and international environment confronting Pakistan. Ominous conditions such as that within and outside Pakistan dictate that: "I keep it on until 2007 ... the regional and international environment demands that I keep it on. So why should I be bothered to remove it now?"

Moreover, it was of least concern for him that the majority of the people in Pakistan wanted to see him without his uniform, what mattered most with him was what Bush Sahib wanted of him. The man whose uniform prior to 9/11 had made him a pariah military dictator, boasted openly that never in any of his meetings, private or official, President Bush on any occasion asked to see him without his Khaki.

I am sure the man in White House allegedly and reputedly fighting a life-long battle with ignorance, has enough of Texan wisdom not to demand of his man Friday to be without clothes when it is known all over that Khaki to him is like hair were to Samson. His critics at home have corrected the impression that he had an insatiable lust for the office of the Presidency. They are now convinced that given a choice between the Presidency and Chief Of Army Staff his preference would be for the latter. He will like to have the cake and eat it too, best of the two worlds and make most of it while the sun of absolute power shines on him.

Coming back to Musharraf's "Rapistan", I agree with the vast public reaction in Pakistan to his Washington Post interview that whatever the General said about getting raped is a most brazen and sickening manifestation of a degenerated male mind. Musharraf told WP correspondent: 'You must understand the environment in Pakistan. This (rape) has become a money making concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada and citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped.'

Since the WP interview many innocent, naive Pakistanis and columnists have asked the question why General Musharraf thought it fit to make such a horrendous statement. They must realize that it is typical of the Praetorian mind set. Musharraf's explanation reminds me of late General "Tiger" Niazi who broke all previous records in genocide and massive rapes in erstwhile East Pakistan. He indulged, patronized, encouraged and defended rape of Muslim women (since majority of people in East Pakistan were more religious Muslims than their West Pakistani counterparts) with the view to changing the ethnic complexion of the population.

It is part of the method in the madness that military dictators employ to terrorize and subdue the civil population. Remember General Zia's time when tik-tikis, a wooden structure raised from ground to expose the posterior of a man to be administered lashes in public. To make its impact more gruesomely effective, whipping was done in a public place-mostly in sports stadiums. Besides public lashing to thousands of political dissidents, General Zia also indulged in execution by hanging to mute democratic voices.

Our present General, more of a macho man popularly described by his critics as YK2 (Yahya Khan 2), has sent his spine-chilling message to every home in Pakistan that he has given carte blanche for the rape of women in Pakistan.

Although under tremendous international pressure, the General has tried to go back on his words and blamed the Washington Post, his supporters cannot describe such horrific and sadist utterances as slip of his tongue. Instead of sympathizing with the rape victims and leaving no stone unturned to provide them justice, he has been going out of the way to prove that they themselves were the villains of the sordid piece.

Much before investigations are started in rape cases, the rapists are given a clean bill of health. Not only in Mukhtaran Mai's case who was stopped traveling abroad by Musharraf himself since he feared that she would bad mouth Pakistan in foreign lands, he showed indecent haste to rush to issue a public statement in Dr Shazia Khalid's rape case where an army Captain Hammad was allegedly the principal accused. The General said he was sure the accused was innocent. He had subverted and jackbooted justice by declaring Hammad above board even before investigations could start.

Gang-rapes, parading of women in the nude in public and increasing number of karo-kari cases spread like epidemics during military rule when the dictators talk of good governance but practically do the opposite.

The reason being very simple. Military rule provide all sort of feudal, lustful and excessive privileges to its personnel and to its civilian collaborators, including police, since it is the two that have to play the tango while the country and its people suffer.

Moreover, since dictators are not accountable to any one, it is the free for all sponsored by them that becomes the order of the day. Sonia Naz's case highlights over indulgence of police personnel in heinous crimes including rape. It is a sordid story of rape and extortion by a police officer that is protected by the high ups in Musharraf regime and it shows what happens to a society where poachers become gamekeepers.

Indeed, Pakistan had never sunk so low morally as now. The deepening apathy, social degeneration and decadence, breakdown of law and order machinery, all are sure signs of a state tethering on the verge of collapse. And with rulers like Musharraf around any longer, it could, may Allah forbid, mean swan song for Pakistan.

The writer is a former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK

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