'Protect Mukhtar Mai', New York Times urges Musharraf
Apr 9, 2007 - 12:52:29 PM
Lahore, April 9 - Mukhtar Mai, who survived a gang-rape in 2002 and has become a fervent campaigner for Pakistan's voiceless women, could be killed by feudal lords or even government agencies, the New York Times has said.
Urging Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to protect her, noted American columnist Nicholas Kristoff has said: 'So I have a message for President Musharraf: Don't even think about it. Start protecting Mukhtar instead of harassing her.'
Referring to her 'top aide and soul mate' Naseem Akhtar, he said: 'And if any 'accident' happens to Mukhtar or Naseem, you will be held responsible before the world. We are watching.'
'Mukhtar is a hero of mine,' Kristoff wrote. 'But her work has earned her many enemies, particularly among the feudal lords - and even in the government of President Pervez Musharraf, who fears that Mukhtar displays Pakistan's dirty laundry before the world. So the Pakistani authorities are harassing Mukhtar, trying to break her organisation', which helps women and the poor in distress.
'Most of the pressure right now is on Mukhtar's top aide and soul mate, Naseem Akhtar. Lately Naseem's brother was in a mysterious vehicle accident, her father was ordered arrested for no apparent reason and her own house was broken into.'
The report says that Farooq Leghari, a police chief, was transferred away from Meerwala because 'he tried too hard to protect Mukhtar'. He now is police chief in another town and when Kristof visited him, he told him that the 'harassment and pressure on them is from very high up, from Islamabad'.
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