Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Pakistan, our "ally": What the hell's wrong with the world?

Dear President Bush,

Do something about this. Please. For God's sake.

If you're serious about America's mission in the world, about the spread of freedom and democracy, stand up with all the moral righteousness you can muster and say with force, conviction, and unswerving determination that things like this simply cannot go on in a place that, allegedly, is an ally.

You welcome Pakistan's foreign minister to the White House, America's house, but Kristof is right: "President Musharraf has gone nuts." He's a thug. And now he's berated, harassed, and detained a poor woman, Mukhtaran Bibi, who dared speak out after she was gang-raped for some "infraction supposedly committed by her brother". She was jeered by her community and was expected to commit suicide in the wake of such humiliation. But "she fought back and testified against her persecutors. Six were convicted."

More than that, she used aid money to "[expand] the schools, [start] a shelter for abused women and [buy] a van that is used as an ambulance for the area. She has also emerged as a ferocious spokeswoman against honor killings, rapes and acid attacks on women." But now she's been detained in some "secret location," and "[s]he is barred from contacting anyone, including her lawyer."

"So, Mr. Bush," if I may quote Kristof's conclusion, "how about asking Mr. Musharraf to focus on finding Osama, instead of kidnapping rape victims who speak out? And invite Ms. Mukhtaran to the Oval Office -- to show that Americans stand not only with generals who seize power, but also with ordinary people of extraordinary courage."

She is the true face of Pakistan, a model of courage in the face of extraordinary hardship. She needs our attention. And she needs your help.


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