Tuesday, June 14, 2005

New York Times Columnist Defends Tragic Female Victim In Pakistan

Congratulations should go to New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof for his steadfast defense of a young Pakistani woman who has been repeatedly victimized by barbaric Muslim extremists in her country, and now the embarrassed regime of that nation's dictator, Pervez Musharraf.

Meanwhile, everlasting glory should go to Mukhtaran Bibi. She is the young woman who was ordered gang-raped by a tribal council in Pakistan for a transgression supposedly committed not by her but by her brother. Assaulted by four men, and then forced to walk home nearly naked, Ms. Mukhtaran was supposed to commit suicide out of shame.

However, she fought back, testified against those who had raped her, shamed the government into prosecuting them, and then giving her compensation money. She then took the money, and $133,000 donated by Kristof's readers who had seen his columns about the matter, and established schools for boys and girls, an abuse shelter for women and an ambulance service in her village.

The story became more sordid when corrupt Pakistani courts ordered the rapists released, and then the authorities cracked down not on them, but on Ms. Mukhtaran who had been invited to visit the U.S. by Pakistani-Americans. Now, she has been jailed and held incommunicado, rather than allowed to go to America and speak out about the persistent abuses in Pakistan.

In this case, Kristof writes, the Pakistani authorities headed by Musharraf "have gone nuts" in their actions against a woman courageous enough to stand up to age-old Muslim discrimination against women.

"No wonder the Pakistan government can't catch Osama bin Laden," the columnist writes. "It is too busy, Harassing, detaining -- and now kidnapping -- a gang rape victim for daring to protest and for planning a visit to the United States."

The ostensible reason is Pakistani government fear that if she goes to the U.S., Bibi will malign Pakistan's image.

"Excuse me." writes Kristof, "but Ms. Mukhtaran, a symbol of courage and altruism, is the best hope for Pakistan's image. The threat to Pakistan's image comes from President Musharraf for all this thuggish behavior."

Just on Friday, Kristof notes, President Bush received Pakistan's foreign minister at the White House and praised Musharraf for "bold leadership" in the War on Terror.

Instead, Kristof suggests, Mr. Bush should be asking Musharraf to focus more effort on capturing bin Laden "instead of of kidnapping rape victims who speak out."

And, he goes on, Mr. Bush ought to invite Mukhtaran to the White House "to show that Americans stand not only with generals who seize power, but also with ordinary people of extraordinary courage."

Execuse me, also, but I wonder where Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and former President Jimmy Carter have been on this matter. Feeling free always to criticize U.S. military forces for using what they consider overly rough tactics on the Muslim extremists, they haven't spoken out on behalf of Mukhtaran Bibi.

Where are they? Why are these liberal representatives so critical of the U.S. and the Bush Administration, when they won't stand up against barbaric terrorists in the Muslim world?

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