General Squirm

Musharraf makes no apologies for his comments against Pakistani rape victims

Realising that international public opinion was fast turning against Musharraf for his rather too sincere remarks about how he felt about Pakistan’s rape victims, his military spin doctors made a lame attempt at damage control. “The president did not make any such statement,” they contended, “the remarks had been wrongly attributed to the president.”

It didn’t quite wash, not when the Washington Post’s reporters confirmed they had reported Musharraf’s words verbatim, and they also had it recorded on tape, for good measure.

And the Canadians were outraged because the fair name of their country had been dragged into the whole thing.

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin on Thursday condemned reported remarks by President Pervez Musharraf in which he said many people in Pakistan felt that one way of making money or moving to Canada was to “get yourself raped”.

Martin said he had raised the matter with Musharraf during a meeting. “I stated unequivocally that comments such as that are not acceptable and that violence against women is also a blight that besmirches all humanity,” Martin told a news conference at the United Nations. “And the statement that was made – we did not appreciate (it) and we felt we had to deal with this. (Musharraf) took the position that that was not a statement he had made,” Martin said. [DT/Reuters]

While all this opprobium did put Gen Musharraf on the back foot, he was not the one to apologise. How could he be so ‘cynical or stupid’ to say such a thing? It was those reporters who ‘misquoted’ him so as to cast ‘aspersions’ on him. And not content with Canada, he brought more countries into the equation.

Referring to protests being made in favour of Pakistani rape victims abroad, (Musharraf) said rape was an abhorrent act but asked why Pakistan was being singled out for castigation. “Are there not rapes in the US or Canada? Are American victims of rape taken to China? Are Canadian rape victims taken to Australia? What about French rape victims?” he asked. [DT]

He doesn’t need to look far for answers to those questions. A cursory look at what Pakistani newspapers are saying should give him plenty of clues to what the fuss is all about.

And those remarks about rape in the West and the NGOs were most unfortunate. The Mukhtar Mai case was nothing like rapes in the West, it was an indictment of our society. In the West, rape victims are not put on exit-control lists. The West has not got its civilised image by putting a gag on information about what goes wrong; nor is the West lagging in the legal and social support available to raped women. [DT]

Even if a lot of benighted and bigoted people say such things debasing women, should a head of state repeat them at the risk of implying approval? If this attitude of blaming rape and other crimes against women on women themselves and ridiculing NGOs that take up such issues begins to travel upward from ignorant mullahs and male chauvinists to permeate the higher echelons of the administration, then God help us.

A few cases like that of Shazia Khalid, Mukhtaran Mai and Sonia Naz have got publicity both at home and abroad. What about the women regularly abused in the countryside by landlords and powerful elements of the rural bureaucracy? What about the small girls brought to a Karachi hospital recently who were found to have been brutally assaulted? Did they go through rape to get a Canadian visa or Canadian citizenship? And if conditions in the country are so bad that to leave it, women are ready to go to the extent of concocting stories of being dishonored, then too we should be prepared to shed tears if we have any.[Dawn]

Carry on General, the more you open your mouth, the more the world knows what you really are. And we miss that chap from Pakistan’s foreign office, the one that we affectionately call Pakistan’s Comical Ali, who turns up at such hopeless moments and announces that the ‘allegations are baseless’. Whatever happened to him?

Update: The Washington Post has put the audio clip of the interview online.

7 thoughts on “General Squirm”

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  2. I don’t suppose Mushy realizes that he is not painting Pakistan in exactly the most flattering light when he says that people are getting themselves raped so as to be able to migrate to Canada. The lives of women in Pakistan must be worse than I imagined if for some the only way to get out is to endure sexual assault.

  3. One seriously has to question the sanity of the general. I guess this is what India can expect when things go sore with its bonne amie with president Mush!

  4. There’s more and in true Mushy tradition, not all pleasant.

    Opponents are enemies of country: Musharraf

    Dawn Report

    NEW YORK, Sept 17: Pandemonium broke out at a meeting organized to promote Pakistan’s soft image when after a confrontation with human rights activists an irate President Pervez Musharraf declared that those who opposed his policies were the enemies of Pakistan.

    “You are against me and Pakistan,” said the president when a human rights activist referred to his alleged comments in a Washington Post interview which quoted him (Gen Musharraf) as saying that women exploited rape to get visas.

    Provoked by a single question, the president allowed an event held to promote his government’s pro-women policies to degenerate into a bout between himself and part of the invited audience.

    “I am a fighter, I will fight you. I do not give up and if you can shout, I can shout louder,” said Gen Musharraf.

    “I wish you had quoted Muslim scholars as opposed to British scholars,” said the president to the woman who had quoted some American scholars to make her point.

    Responding to the woman’s charge that he had retracted his interview to the Washington Post in which he was quoted as saying that some women used rape to get visa, Gen Musharraf said: “Lady, you are used to people who tell lies. I am not one of them.”

    As the human rights and women groups protested outside the Roosevelt Hotel against the treatment of rape victims in Pakistan Gen Musharraf said that such protests should be held in and not outside Pakistan.

    When a woman raised her voice to ask a question, the president said: “Are you a Benazir supporter? A lady was prime minister of Pakistan twice, ask her what she has done for Pakistan.”

    In an indirect reference to opposition politicians in Pakistan, the president said: “We have introduced new leaders who don’t tell lies unlike your leaders who did.”

    “You have disappointed me. I am disappointed with people like you. You work with people who looted and plundered the nation. You are against national interest, you have your own agenda.”

    He said that people like her had some personal agenda for highlighting cases that hurt Pakistan’s reputation. “I know that there are people with vested interests and financial interests who are against Pakistan.”

    The president also referred to the Post interview, saying, “I never said that. I am not so silly or stupid to make such remarks.”

    Referring to some NGOs who raised the issues of Pakistani women outside the country, he said that they were also hurting national interests, prompting a woman activist to say to him that he should not pitch the state against the groups who work for human rights.

    When the altercation began to get uglier, Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Jehangir Karamat, who was Gen Musharraf’s senior in the army, approached the podium and moved the president away by gently patting his shoulders.

    The president, however, returned to the podium and said he was not against those women who were working for women’s cause.

    Earlier in his speech, Gen Musharraf highlighted two issues — violence against women and gender inequality —, saying that the violence was abhorrent and shameful and his government was making laws to end this curse.

    He acknowledged that Pakistan’s record on violence against women left much to be desired. “We should be ashamed of it and improve the situation for ourselves and the world to see,” he said.

    But he firmly stated that he stood opposed to anyone who sought to single out Pakistan by highlighting individual cases outside Pakistan, given that rape was a worldwide issue.

  5. Thanks, Anil, for posting that Dawn report.

    I find it astonishingly incredible that the idiotic BJP government had repeatedly laid out the red carpet for this deranged dictator. Mushy is slick but from the above report, he clearly lost it. Now if only the stupid Indian journalists could corner the dictator with such questions. Alas, the general is a bit much for them to handle.

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