September 18, 2005Foreign Affairs

General Squirm

Musharraf makes no apologies for his comments against Pakistani rape victims

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

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](]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.

If you would like to share or comment on this, please discuss it on my GitHub Previous
There was a foreign hand. But it was the KGB’s
The peace process, in perspective

© Copyright 2003-2024. Nitin Pai. All Rights Reserved.