Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The way they run that place

Letter to Daitly Times, Lahore published on January 24, 2006

Sir:Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz was in New York last week. So was Mukhtar Mai. It was probably a coincidence that both arrived at about the same time. Mr Aziz stopped here on his way to Washington DC to see President George W Bush. Mukhtar Mai flew in from France, where she was invited to launch a book on her life story. In New York, she was to make a scheduled appearance at the United Nations television studios in a programme called “An Interview with Mukhtar Mai: The bravest woman on Earth”.

While Mr Aziz made all his scheduled appearances in New York, Mukhtar Mai could not because the organisers cancelled the programme at the last minute. However, in spite of all the prime minister’s men (there were, reportedly, 75 of them accompanying him) his presence in the city was not noticed by the New York Times. Mukhtar Mai’s was --- because of the cancellation of the programme. Her story, along with her picture was splashed over half a page.

According to the Times story Mukhtar Mai “was denied a chance to speak at the United Nations on Friday after Pakistan protested that it was the same day the country’s prime minister was visiting... When asked at a news conference why Pakistan had taken the action, Shaukat Aziz said: “I have no idea. You have informed me and so have some other people as I was walking in. I don’t know how the place functions.”

One wonders whether Mr Aziz’s comment related to the functioning of the UN or the functioning of his own administration.

New York


At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Nasir Aziz said...

I wonder if Mukhtar Mai's appearance in the UN would have helped or harmed Pakistan's already tarnished image. Sometimes you need to put a lid on your countrymen's faults and work those issues out internally. Perpetrators should have been punished severally and made an example out of them - in their own country; without broadcasting it to the world.

Whatever happened to Mukhtar Mai is abhorable and should not happen in civil societies. According to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, at least 151 Pakistani women were gang-raped in 2004. According to a study conducted by the National Victim Center, 1.3 women ( age 18 and over) in the United States are forcibly raped each minute. That translates to 78 per hour, 1,871 per day, or 683,000 per year. Over 10,000 gang rapes were reported just within the US universities last year. So how come those victims not appearing infront of the UN and making book deals?

Our adversaries thrive on highlighting such issues emerging from that region and point to them whenever given a chance. If Pakistan's rape cases are of interest to UN, then I will say that let Pakistan be a part of some western occupation - Lets invite those British imperialists back to the country and let them walk all over it. What difference does it make anyway?

Well, thank you Mukhtar Mai for being the bravest - It may serve you well but unfortunately not your country.

At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Saif said...

One reason "those issues" are aired outside the country is that they are ignored inside. And secondly, if appearances at the UN or other international forums would brighten or tarnish a country's image, Pakistan's image should have been the brightest by now because Pakistan frequently sends very large delegations to the Western capitals. (The most recent delegation of the P.M to New York and DC consisted of nearly 80 people.)

It is not the statistics of rape that is the issue. It's the attitude of the state institutions toward the victims of rape that is being discussed. In Mukhtaran's case case the state institutions --- police, judiciary or anyone else--- did not do a thing until the sh.. hit the fan.

At 2:01 PM, Anonymous nasir aziz said...

I am glad to find out that we openly admit our weaknesses and incompetence and can not even take care of our own problems. That's a good start. And when did it occur to us that police, judiciary or anyone else in Pakistan does anything for anyone anyway - these benign institutions serve no one except a few. It would be naïve to even consider those for justice.

Next logical step would be to bring "freedom" and "democracy" to Pakistan from the outside; sponsored by Halliburton, Pentagon or maybe NATO. Now that will solve a lot of problems! Reform comes from within and can never be imported. No one understands your problems except you - and you should be able to fix it.

As for Mr. Aziz's visit to UN and his entourage, I suppose it was mentioned in sarcastic terms. I myself did not think it was appropriate and necessary, especially when I know some of the apologists and zombies who accompanied him.

It's our responsibility to put a check on our leaders and put them in their place to serve us and not themselves. If there are excuses and arguments against it - then they always will be just that and nothing more; that is: excuses and arguments.


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