IF THESE ARE OUR FRIENDS, WHO ARE OUR ENEMIES? Pakistan is a strange ally. Seller of nuclear arms across the globe, harbor of terrorists, and an A 1 American friend, this one nation commits a multiplicity of crimes on one brave woman. A woman who might have been crushed by injustice to her, who holds out the open hands of a soul free of bitterness may now be crushed by the politics of nations. This is the story of Mukhtaran Bibi, a saint who forgives small sinners, only again to see great sins visited upon her.
Three years ago, the uneducated Punjabi villager was gang-raped on the orders of her local council of elders, who held that the vile attack was suitable retribution for a sex crime allegedly committed by her 12-year-old brother. That charge later turned out to be hogwash.
Instead of keeping quiet, Mukhtaran Bibi confronted her accusers in court, and six men were sentenced to death. In a country in which most rape victims have to produce four witnesses to secure a conviction, her tear-drenched testimony was practically revolutionary. …………. DECLAN WALSH/GUARDIAN UK
Who takes evil and makes good makes the world greater. Mukhtaran took what small money awarded her by Musharraf and opened two schools in her village, one for boys and one for girls, schools open to all. All is a concept few understand so well. The spirit forgives crimes committed on the body. Mukhtaran invited the sons and daughters of her attackers to attend these schools.
But this year, the case started to unravel. In March, an appeal court overturned the convictions of the six men. Furious, Ms Mukhtaran launched a supreme court challenge and vigorously publicised her plight in the international media - which was where the ham-fisted government stepped in.
Officially, it said the exit control order was for her own good. "It is a security measure," one official said. "We want her case to be processed and resolved first," the junior interior minister explained.
But the real reason, it would seem, was to prevent Ms Mukhtaran from attending a human rights meeting in the US where she could presumably have highlighted the scandal of an embarrassingly slanted judicial system. …………. DECLAN WALSH/GUARDIAN UK
Pakistan is a strange place where the spirit may heal, but the body politic goes sick. The embodiment of the state will not allow for the voice of the spirit to be heard. She would speak against the embodiment of her nation’s government Musharraf so the voice of the spirits must be silenced.
"This is all because they think they have the support of the U.S. and can get away with murder," Ms. Jahangir said. Indeed, on Friday, just as all this was happening, President Bush received Pakistan's foreign minister in the White House and praised President Musharraf's "bold leadership." ................... NICHOLAS KRISTOFF/NY TIMES
Even a strong voice can be gagged. Someone must speak for the silenced.
THE HERETIK CONTINUES ON WITH MUKHTARAN STORY HERE