Free Mukhtar Mai

Posted by sepoy on June 14, 2005 · 4 mins read

In a bid to present the softer side of Pakistan, The General has restricted all movement of Mukhtar Mai - including any overseas travel. See, the softer side of Pakistan does not include any promotion of the fact that women get gang-raped by community consensus [panchaiyat or jirga] - when they are not bought, sold or killed by the same village elders. I don't even want to go into the "tradition" that allows men to barter and kill women for their honor and heritage. May the pox be on their houses.

She is an incredible woman who deserves the honor of her people. Kristoff has some things to say as well:

Excuse me, but Ms. Mukhtaran, a symbol of courage and altruism, is the best hope for Pakistan's image. The threat to Pakistan's image comes from President Musharraf for all this thuggish behavior.
I've been sympathetic to Mr. Musharraf till now, despite his nuclear negligence, partly because he's cooperated in the war on terrorism and partly because he has done a good job nurturing Pakistan's economic growth, which in the long run is probably the best way to fight fundamentalism. So even when Mr. Musharraf denied me visas all this year, to block me from visiting Ms. Mukhtaran again and writing a follow-up column, I bit my tongue.
But now President Musharraf has gone nuts.

No. He hasn't gone nuts. He is doing what dictators do. Manage the PR. The best way to combat him is to spin this out of his hand. Send him a note. Write about this on your blogs. Write a letter to the editor. Go to the Rally.

Do see ANAA [the sponsoring group].

update, jun 15: Looks like the PR spun out of their hands. NYT reports that Shaukat Aziz ordered the lifting of travel restrictions. Great news.

update, jun 16: Saurav pointed out in the comments that the great news is not so great. BBC is reporting that her passport has not been returned and that she has withdrawn her visa application from the US consulate. Quite a bad sign. Please do spread the word. Copy my graphic above to your sites and link to this post. I will try and keep it updated.

update, jun 17: June 15th press briefing from the Department of State. Mukhtar Mai has an open invitation from the US, now. Whereabouts of her passport are still unknown. I am guessing that it will be found as soon as The General gets back into town. Such a bad, bad PR move.

update, jun 18: There goes my hope that this was done by chamchas. Looks like The General is making his stand.

update, jun 19: Kristoff has a follow-up op-ed. Nitin provides a full summary of opinion coverage. Also, do see KO's excellent post.

update, jun 21: Interview with Mukhtar Mai. It appears certain that she won't be traveling to the US anytime soon. Meantime, there is no pressure on Islamabad and The General is convinced that Pakistan's image got a boost from his trip to NZ. Saurav wrote in to remind all that there is a press conference [pdf] tomorrow.

update, jun 28:see my later post


lionel baptista | June 15, 2005

The NYT had an editorial on this today. Unfortunately, no one in Washington seems to care - with Pervaiz promising to deliver (always low-level) Al-Qaeda terrorists, Bush seems content to ride with his man - after all both claim and strongly believe that divinity has something to do with their leading their respective countries

Saurav | June 16, 2005

Firstly, thanks sincerely for the post, sepoy. It got me out of my own head and led me to do the same as you. In response to your update, I read that the that the government confiscated her passport. Any news?

sepoy | June 16, 2005

Saurav: NYT, with an Islamabad byline, is stating that the ban is lifted and she is free to move. I have not seen any other report about confiscated passport. Let's see what develops. Mukhtar Mai is scheduled to be in Chicago mid-July. I am looking forward to hearing from her.

Saurav | June 16, 2005

Sepoy, here's the BBC article quoting Mukhtar Mai that the easing of travel restrictions is "useless" because they still have her passport (a typical tactic). If I weren't American and hadn't been here for the past 10 years, I would be able to believe how irresponsible the New York Times article is by printing that quote from the Pakistani government and presenting this as resolved when in fact it clearly is not. What shoddy f@#king journalism (excuse my French).

sepoy | June 16, 2005

Yes, this report is quite devastating. And the tactic is quite typical. ANAA has scheduled a press conference for next week.

andrea | June 16, 2005

I'm linking too, and have already gotten flamed for doing so. w00t.

KO | June 19, 2005

Been following the whole mess here.

Saurav | June 19, 2005

Thanks for the updates, Sepoy. I think Musharraf needs a new public relations staff.

Subedar Shabeer | July 31, 2005

Check this link. A very nice written, hard-hitting piece. Thanks

Subedar Shabeer | August 04, 2005

Sorry, the adress to that link is:

Saba Tayyab | September 24, 2005

Mukhtar mai's Truth is contrary to the fiction made by herself. Please Dont be blind Like others. Read my very personal expereince with her in her village......

Procrastination | June 14, 2005

Reaction to Criticism The Bush administration responds to Amnesty International's cataloging of abuses in Gitmo and beyond by tarnishing Amnesty's name. The Musharraf regime saves Pakistan's reputation by not allowing Mukhtaran Bibi, a gang rape victim, to go abroad.

regine zamor | February 04, 2006

I am doing a story on Mukhtar Mair as a hero. If anyone has any contact information that can assist in my efforts please respond to I'd greatly appreciate it!

k.van-houson | September 08, 2006


withheld | September 11, 2006

I am sadded to hear of this situation. This is more evidence why the crazy countries such as Pakistan should be controlled by the USA. Thank goodness the USA is cleaning up Afghanistan and Iraq. It is funny how people condemn the USA but fall back for their assistance in time of need.