Sunday, June 19, 2005
Musharraf vexed in NZ
Don’t go by what our ‘controlled’ TV channels and silly ol' geriatric Dawn have to say.
Commando Salamat did not get an easy time in NZ .
Fact One - Musharraf was sent elsewhere…
First of all Musharraf could not make it to the NZ capital city of Wellington. Why? Because the visiting British Rugby Team, the Lions and its supporters had booked all the hotels in advance and therefore had democratic precedence. The New Zealand Herald reported:
General Pervez Musharraf arrives on Friday for a weekend of talks with Prime Minister Helen Clark. But the entire 55-strong delegation will only visit Auckland because there is not any available accommodation in Wellington. Foreign Affairs says there are only a few hotels in the capital that can cope with a delegation of that size, and they are all booked out for the Lions tour.
Fact Two - An embarrassing clash took place between NZ Police and Mush’s guards (NZ Stuff))
The visit of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had a rocky start when police seized a pistol from one of his security men at Auckland airport last night.
Pakistani officials became involved in a lengthy argument after a police sergeant took a heavy pistol from the man's shoulder holster.
[See Photo: The policeman is holding the confiscated pistol in his hand].
It took more than an hour after the presidential party landed for diplomatic protection squad chief Inspector Bruce Blayney to sort the issue out.
Five guns were eventually handed over.
And The New Zealand Herald adds:
A spokesman from the office of the Police Commissioner said the delegation had been specifically instructed by New Zealand police to leave their weapons on the chartered plane that brought General Musharraf from Australia.
Fact Three - As the Mukhtaran Mai story hit the local press, Musharraf decided to duck the issue by cancelling his interviews on radio and TV
– this is confirmed by the following press release issued by the irate TV station (NZ’s Scoop).
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has today cancelled two in depth media interviews with Pakistani President Musharraf.
The interviews were scheduled for Radio New Zealand’s “Nine to Noon” and the TVOne programme “Agenda”.
Agenda producer Richard Harman says no explanation has been given for the cancellation of the interview on his programme though a Foreign Affairs spokesman claimed the decision had been made by the Pakistanis.
President Musharraf’s visit here comes in a week with heightened concerns about human rights in his country provoked by an honour gang rape.
Mr Harman said his programme certainly intended to ask the President about the rape and human rights in his country.
“Right from the start the New Zealand authorities have been hyper sensitive over this visit and our interview,” said Mr Harman.
“We even received a demand from the New Zealand police that the President’s motorcade not be filmed as it entered the TVNZ network centre complex in Auckland.”
“It is time for the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs to start upholding the fundamental New Zealand democratic right of a free media and stop pandering to the whims of foreign dictators.”
Fact Four - A New Zealand MP and Foreign Policy spokesman for the Green party publicly called on the NZ Prime Minister to challenge Musharraf for being a dictator who tortured and held people without trial
NZ Scoop reports.
"Musharraf is all but a dictator, and the Prime Minister will be betraying the Pakistani people if she doesn't speak out strongly against his shocking human rights record during his visit here," Green Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Keith Locke said.
"It is good for New Zealand to have closer relations with Pakistan, but they must be accompanied by plain speaking on human rights.
"The routine torture of political dissidents in Musharraf's prisons has been condemned around the world, including in US State Department reports. Pakistan's Human Rights Commission estimates 5000 cases of police torture a year, including beating, whipping the soles of feet, and administering electric shocks.
"Miss Clark says she will be discussing counter-terrorism with Mr Musharraf. We ask her not to accept excuses from the President that the 'war on terror' justifies the use of force against prisoners and their detention without trial. The truth is that many ordinary Pakistanis have been terrorised by the country's security forces."
Mr Musharraf had also failed to protect women's rights, and our Prime Minister should relay our disquiet, Mr Locke said.
"At least 1500 women are killed in Pakistan each year for 'dishonouring' their families. Rape victims are discouraged from laying a complaint. Women can even be charged for the crimes of family members.
"Three years ago, a Pakistani woman Mukhtaran Bibi was sentenced to be gang-raped for a crime allegedly committed by her brother. She has now been detained by the Pakistani police because she dared to speak out about her case in the international media.
Finally - a well known NZ Blogger ‘No Right Turn’ – a human rights advocate - summed up Mush's three day visit in NZ as:
Agenda this morning commented at length on the cancellation of their interview with President Musharraf and issues surrounding his visit. They also reported on his speech to the Foreign Correspondent's Club in Auckland last night, during which it seems he received quite a grilling about human rights and the Mukhtaran Bibi case in particular. His response was to say that he had personally ordered Mukhtaran's travel ban and detention as he did not want her to tarnish Pakistan's image abroad. He also called human rights NGOs "westernized fringe elements" which are "as bad as the Islamic extremists". I think that makes it quite clear where he stands on human rights...
Meanwhile, according to Stuff, both Helen Clark and the Governor-General reportedly raised human and women's rights issues with Musharraf yesterday, so there's been some progress since the beginning of the week.
I would imagine the Great Commando will be relieved to return to dear old Pakistan. a country where he can do no wrong and is daily reminded of this 'fact' by his chumchas, such as Nilofar Bakhtiar