Musharraf vs Mukhtaran; as seen around the world
Columnists in Pakistan’s three main Pakistani dailies have come down on Musharraf like a ton of bricks. Writing before Musharraf’s admission, Ayaz Amir wrote ‘whom the gods wish to humble they first make ridiculous’. Irfan Hussain’s piece is titled ‘hounding the heroine’. Ardeshir Cowasjee agrees that Pakistan is a victim of ‘poor perceptions’, but given the vast difference between Musharraf’s rhetoric and his treatment of Mukhtaran, the General is much to blame.
The Daily Times‘ Ejaz Haider takes a different view. He is troubled by the “Great Leader’s” attempts to project a positive image without making any serious attempt to address the underlying socio-economic problems. His verdict — not only has the Pakistani state shot itself in the foot, it has ended up putting its injured foot in the mouth. Khaled Hassan reveals that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies are conducting ‘inquiries’ on the Pakistani-American NGO that invited Mukhtaran, ‘to ferret out information about the networkâ€™s members and their families back in Pakistan’.
In an editorial, The News, notes that it was Musharraf who was the ‘man behind the plan’. It advises him not to alienate the progressive forces that can change Pakistan into a modern, forward-looking state. Ghazi Salahuddin writes that ‘a misconceived attempt to protect Pakistan’s image abroad by blocking Mukhtaran’s planned visit to the United States has led to an unprecedented censure of the government’s behaviour in the international media.’
The ‘BBC’ agrees. Aamer Ahmed Khan, its correspondent in Karachi, terms the affair a ‘PR disaster’ for Pakistan. Down under, the New Zealand Green Party has issued a press release calling on Prime Minister Helen Watson to raise the issue during her discussions with the visiting dictator.
Curiously, Indian newspapers have not given that much editorial attention to this case at all. The one article that did make it to the pages of the Indian Express, was written by a women’s rights advocate, and titled “Ever heard of Mukhtaran Mai?”. (Related Link: Why India should be concerned)
The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof, whose op-ed last week did much to draw global attention to Mukhtaran’s plight has a new one. He writes, a tad prematurely, that ‘Musharraf may have ousted rivals and overthrown a civilian government, but he has now met his match – a peasant woman with a heart of gold and a will of steel’. On the newspaper’s website, Kristof posts responses and updates too.