Thursday, June 16, 2005

Homage to a Mai from a Village

If one was poor and illiterate what sort of prospect can one expect in Pakistan? OK, if we members of the educated-in-English-and-not-uselessly-in-Urdu elite were honest about it – the answer would be a hopelessly pitiful one.

Now add a ‘being a woman’ factor to the ‘poor and illiterate’ and what do you get? A short life span between 50 and 60 years, filled with daily hardships, misery, toil and drudgery, and having to live these years in a society completely dominated by men and their whims.

And then you have someone like Mukhtaran – definitely poor, definitely illiterate and definitely a woman – who has lived all her life in a small backwater village where her family was deemed to be lesser folk by the senior yokel hierarchy of the village.

On a horribly brutal day some three years ago she was gang raped by four members of the senior yokel family to avenge some concocted grievance. In those few short and inhuman hours Mukhtaran must have died a thousand deaths.

But she survived. In a failed society where her tragic cries might have remained unheeded because of the absence of proper administrative justice, she had the good fortune to be heard by some caring outsiders. They publicised her calamity and soon it caught the attention of local and then eventually the international press.

Finally alerted by all the attention Mukhtaran was getting, the authorities felt obliged to act. Her attackers were finally detained and Musharraf grandly awarded her Rs, 500,000.

Using that money along with some US$ 133,000 raised by US well-wishers; she built two schools, one each for girls and boys; a shelter for abused women; and bought a small Suzuki van to be used as a local ambulance. It becomes apparent that she desired genuine advancement for her community.

As I said previously, I would vote for her, like a shot, for president.

OK, I know the cynics out there will shake their heads and wonder – an illiterate village woman for president? Could one imagine her meeting and conversing with Putin, Chirac or Blair? This guy must be nuts for suggesting such a brainless idea!

In reply I would say the following:

For the past *^#@&^% fifty-seven years we have had urban educated males abominably mismanaging and egotistically misruling this country.

A country, that had a great deal hope four decades ago, is now widely perceived as a failing state. Pakistan is not only poverty stricken, we have an absence of rule of law, few working amenities, rampant illiteracy, an extremely corrupt and amoral ruling class, a powerfully wealthy and defiant army and a criminal police force.

Yes, we would also have to agree that we have been inundated with exceedingly corrupt and amoral politicians, rural gentry, generals, admirals, air marshals, bureaucrats, businessmen, traders, bankers, wankers, et al. And yes, nearly all of them – 99% - have been educated men, mostly urban. (No, I did not forget Benazir Bhutto, she enters this list of the dissolute as the remaining 1% - which consists of the ‘urban & educated but woman’ category)

A simple good hearted woman like Mukhtaran may not impress everyone. However, she will help bring back a genuine heart and a moral soul to a country, which many suspect that even God has given up on in sheer disgust.

And hey, there will never be any shortage of self-important educated urbane males who can be roped in to entertain the likes of Putin or Chirac.

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