Thursday, November 03, 2005

Pakistani Women of the Year

Mohsin Abbas

Toronto, Oct 30, 2005

Mukhtar Mai, the Pakistani woman who won international fame for speaking out against her gang rape ordered by a village council in her country, is in the US to receive an award for courage from American fashion magazine 'Glamour', which has chosen her the 'Woman of the Year 2005'.Mai, who arrived in Chicago and would attend several functions there to raise funds for the earthquake victims in Pakistan, would be presented the award at a star-studded function here on November 2.The magazine has selected her 'Woman of the Year 2005', an honour bestowed in earlier years to, among others, former first lady and now Senator Hillary Clinton and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.Thirty-six-year old Mai had angered Pakistani government for her outspokenness and decision to visit the US and at one stage authorities in her country had taken away her passport which was returned after international hue and cry and sharp criticism from human and women rights groups.The gang rape was ordered by the council of village in Pakistan in June 2002 in retaliation for alleged affair of her brother with a woman from a higher caste.Braving social stigma, she lodged a police complaint and spoke out against the council. Legal proceedings against her alleged rapists are still going on in Pakistan's Supreme Court.
Once, a docile inhabitant of a remote village in southern Punjab province of Pakistan clutched a worldwide repute, in a spur of moment, when her story of gang-rape hit the headlines of the media, not only in Pakistan but the world-over.
The print and electronic media raced with a swift pace to disseminate the news item in an atypical way. This scenario eventually, took-out Mai from a state of isolation and placed her onto the horizons of the Orb with her visit abroad, the first-ever in her life.
After the ill-fated episode, she had to face by the orders of an influential tribal assemblage [Jirga], not only that Mai now speaks to media with full command and confidence in a skilled and distinctive oratory style, she has also gained physical vigour and verve with a lustrous and glowing hale and hearty face as well as is well-acquainted with the usage of modern gadgets like the mobile phones, which is of-course her right like others cell-phone users, without any problem in any mode or manner.
Former US President Bill Clinton will introduce her to the star-studded event at Lincoln Centre in the New York City on November-2.
Mukhtar Mai says that she would donate $5,000 of the $20,000 prize for earthquake relief, while the rest would be spent to expand the two schools she runs for girls in Meerwala, a remote village in southern Punjab.
“I’ve gained a lot of strength from building the school. I would not be alive today if I had not gained this strength, and I have more faith in Pakistan because of this,” she said.
Hectic Schedule
Mukhtar Mai, who was chosen as ‘Person of the Week’ by ABC last Friday, is scheduled to attend several seminars and meetings in the US at which she is expected to appeal for help to Pakistan in its hour of need.
Several American and Canadian documentary filmmakers are expected to follow Mai during her stay here.
She is also likely to visit Washington to urge Congress to stand up for women’s rights in Pakistan and pledge an additional $50 million in humanitarian aid to her country, but specifically for earthquake-affected women and children.
In a letter to Mai, Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive explained that the magazine honoured the women who had struggled for the cause of women. Mai was invited to visit the US till November-5.
"We look for strength. We look for persistence, a woman of the year is someone who believes that women can do whatever they set their mind to, and Mukhtar illustrates those qualities better than anybody," said Cindi Leive.
Beacon of Light
Her case attracted international attention, and using donations from her well-wishers she has since set up a school for girls in her rural community.

Before leaving for USA, Mukhtar Mai said, “I am a beacon of light for women being subjected to rape, kidnapping, burning, nose or ear chopping. My school is an institution for girls of remote areas where free books, uniform and other facilities are provided to help make them aware of their rights.”Mai said she only came to know about her award from the U.S. embassy this week. "I have decided to go to New York as it is a good opportunity to motivate U.S. government officials and the American people and Pakistanis to do more for the earthquake victims."
Mai said the government did not need to worry about what she might say while abroad. "I'm a Pakistani and I have no intention of tarnishing the country's image. But I will speak on the plight of women in rural areas," she said.
Before boarding the aircraft, which is to take her abroad first-time in life Mai said she has no plans to stay in America. She said she will also use the trip to collect donations for victims of this month's monster earthquake, which killed tens of thousands of people in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir.
Mai has an appeal pending before the Supreme Court of Pakistan against a lower court's order to free 13 men accused of involvement in her rape

Friday, May 27, 2005

Another teenage girl has been gang raped by police officials

Mr.Bush Can you tell Mr.Mush
That who is going to stop
Pakistan To becoming "Polistan"

Iam so sad living in exile when I heard that another teenage girl has been gang raped by police officials at a police station. But this time it is not just in any town. The terrible incident took place in Islamabad, the country's capital. The 15-year-old girl was subjected to the crime between Tuesday and Wednesday night. Saira was travelling in a car with her mother and three other adults, including a woman, when the police stopped the car and ordered them to prove their identity. All the five occupants were taken to Shahzad Town Police Station where the sub-inspector told them that if they didn't pay Rs200,000 in "honour money" (a useful addition, this, to the terminology of crimes against women in Pakistan), they would be formally detained through implication in a sex scandal and booked under the Zina Ordinance. The second woman was also repeatedly raped. Needless to say, the five were not charged with any crime, but part of the "honour money" was nevertheless extracted: the two men were allegedly robbed by the policemen of Rs25,000 and two ATM cards they were carrying. After an uproar following the publication of the story in this paper, the four police officers involved, including a DSP and SHO, were suspended and arrested.

The city Silakot is my birth place . I was reporting for my people in this city for many years.I had witnessesd many police violations during my working years there.I was tortured and forced to go in exile in year 2002 by the same city police.

Only recently, Nazish, a 17-year-old college student from Sialkot, was raped by police officials at a police station where she had ended up after having been gang-raped for 37 days following her kidnapping in January. Gen. Pervez Musharraf ordered a high-level inquiry into that incident, particularly since policemen were involved. But the fact that an enquiry had been ordered by the president himself, did not deter last week's maniacs.

Just a day before Nazish was kidnapped, Dr Shazia Khalid was raped in Sui. The man accused of the crime was also allegedly a member of a law enforcing agency. Sadly, unless such incidents are dealt with swiftly and effectively, Pakistan's attempts to project a "soft" image to the world at large will repeatedly be obscured by its "callous" image.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Two journalists Killed in Pakistan

Two journalists killed in ambush in tribal zone of South Waziristan

Pakistan Press Club (PPC) expressed revulsion at the murder of two courageous reporters after APTN cameraman Amir Nawab Khan and reporter with Pakistan's Khyber TV, Allah Noor Wazir were killed in an ambush in Wana, South Waziristan, south-west of Peshawar. They were returning from covering a Taliban warlord's surrender to the authorities.
Repoters around the globe expressed revulsion at the murder of two journalists who died in a hail of machine-gun fire as their car was ambushed after they covered the surrender of a Taliban leader to the authorities.
The two who died, Amir Nawab Khan and Allah Noor Wazir, were killed outright. One other travelling in the same car was wounded.
"Journalists in the tribal areas have shown their courage and determination to carry out their work under pressure from both armed militants and the authorities", said the worldwide press freedom organisation, which has worked for more than a year with the Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ). "This cowardly murder should not go unpunished."
Khan, a cameraman with broadcast news agency APTN and a reporter with Pakistani daily The Frontier Post, and Wazir, reporter with Pakistani Khyber TV, the daily The Nation and German news agency DPA, were killed on 7 February in an ambush near Wana, South Waziristan, south-west of Peshawar.
Agence France-Presse correspondent in Wana, Anwar Shakir was wounded. They were returning from Sararogha, South Waziristan where Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud had given himself up to the Pakistani authorities.
The journalists came under machine gunfire as they neared a Wana hospital. The security forces failed to identify those responsible for the attack, but a top local official said that it had been an attempt to sabotage the peace agreement between the authorities and Baitullah Mehsud.
Some 20 Wana journalists are employed by international media to cover news from the region.
Since the start of the Pakistani army offensive against armed Taliban and al-Qaeda groups in the Wana region in March 2004, the security forces have almost entirely prevented the press from working in the area.
In June 2004, the military arrested Khan and Wazir for attempting to penetrate the banned area near Wana. Some journalists have received death threats from the Taliban.