Journalist’s plea to save Mukhtaran Mai’s life
NEW YORK, April 5: A columnist of The New York Times who has been documenting Mukhtaran Mai’s story from her home in Meerawala and her struggle to secure justice for her right to speak out against men who raped her and her detractors has called on President Musharraf to fire his ‘Brigadier friend’ who reportedly threatened to have Mukhtaran Mai killed in the streets of New York.
“The traditional landowners want me dead,” Mai was quoted as saying in Meerawala by columnist Nicholas Kristoff, who wrote the article published on Tuesday, Â“A Heroine Walking in the Shadow of Death.”
In this connection, the columnist cited a December meeting in Lahore with a “high up”, the brigadier, had with Dr Amna Buttar, an American citizen who has interpreted for Mukhtaran in the US and heads a Pakistani-American human rights organisation that is supporting her. He claimed that during the meeting, the Brigadier had held out threats to Mai’s life, a charge that the officer dismissed as Â“baseless”, according to the article.
Mr Kristof, wrote: “President Pervez Musharraf is a modern man and I am sure he is privately repulsed by acid attacks and rapes. In some respects, he’s doing a fine job. He also acknowledged that the Pakistan government had provided a paved road, electricity and telephone services to Mai’s village. “But Musharraf seems to feel that Mukhtaran is casting a spotlight on Pakistan’s dark side, so he is leading an effort to bully her into silence.”
“I make a big deal of Mukhtaran because if poor nations like Pakistan are to develop, they need to empower women. When a country educates girls, they grow up to have fewer children and look after them better. They take productive jobs. And plenty of studies show that a woman gains influence over family budgets, the money is less like to go for tobacco, soda or alcohol, and more likely to be invested in small business and in children’s education…”
“If Pakistan is to become a rich and powerful country, it must empower women – and that is what Mukhtaran’s revolution is all about.Â”
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz who arrived here on Tuesday is expected to meet with Mr Kristoff on Wednesday afternoon.
He has already met the editorial board of the Times on Tuesday.