For a moment let us forget Mukhtaran Mai and the fact that three years ago she was gang raped, stripped naked and left to ruin, only to be saved by pressure from outside the frontiers of our blessed Islamic Republic.
And then last week after being placed on the ECL, she was locked up under so-called ‘protective custody’ by dozens of policemen, had her telephone line cut, then ‘officially’ kidnapped and dragged to Islamabad then pressurised by some bimbo (an advisor to the PM by the name of Nilofar Bakhtiar, who let her know that the great Commando Musharraf was personally "very angry" with her).
Mukhtaran Mai was then forced to withdraw her passport from the US Embassy where she had sent it to obtain a visa for her intended trip to the US, and made to face a press conference, nervous and shaking, to save the face of the wizardly half-wits currently in power and deny everything.
But no one believed the façade. Under international derision and anger these wizardly half-wits had to beat a hasty and undignified retreat. They removed her name from the ECL and announced that she was free to go whenever and wherever she wished.
Let us for a moment forget about the dreadful ordeal this poor brave and underprivileged woman had to undergo. Lets us instead examine how the government of Pakistan managed to make a total international ass of itself on a grand scale
From the facts that have emerged it appears that the daft circus was begun by one Jahangir Karamat –a former Army Chief who has been famously accused in the Lahore High Court of pocketing $20 million in purchase of 300 tanks from Ukraine.
Mukhtaran Mai had been invited by a group of Pakistani-Americans (see www.4anaa.org) to visit the US. It has been reported that the retired army chief, currently our Ambassador in Washington, feared that she might malign Pakistan’s image during her stay in the US. So he instructed the Foreign Office at Islamabad to prevent her from reaching the US.
I imagine no one can say no to a General – particular a retired army chief so highly thought of by Commando Salamat himself. The Foreign Office promptly informed the Ministry of Interior and the menacing wheels of coercion were quickly put into gear against a poor and defenceless village woman.
As we all know once officialdom in Pakistan starts moving any withdrawal is perceived as loss of face. So, despite the howls of protest in the local press, Islamabad moved onwards relentlessly to curb Mukhtaran Mai’s independence. Then yesterday it stopped in its tracks. Why? Because a New York Times columnist pronounced that:
-the Pakistani government had gone ‘berserk’
-‘The threat to Pakistan's image comes from President Musharraf for all this thuggish behavior’
- ‘President Musharraf has gone nuts’
- Mr. Bush should ‘invite Ms. Mukhtaran to the Oval Office - to show that Americans stand not only with generals who seize power, but also with ordinary people of extraordinary courage’.
This was followed the next day by a savagely critical editorial in the same newspaper.
Prodded by the Press (and US bloggers on warpath emailing officials by the thousands) the US Government got in to action.
Christina Rocca, the assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, announced that the US Government was ‘dismayed at the treatment being meted out to a courageous woman, Mukhtaran Bibi, who is herself a victim of a horrendous crime and is being denied the right to travel and to tell her story,” She added that "We will pursue this matter during the course of the day"
The Empire had spoken. And so the bullies of Islamabad had to temporarily duck for cover.