Sometimes, I am glad that the President I live under is George W. Bush, rather than Pervez Musharraf. Here is an interview of Pakistan’s President-General with the Washington Post.
Musharraf said he had “totally turned around Pakistan” and had made key advances in fostering democracy, including protecting freedom of the press, empowering local government, improving the position of women in society and giving greater representation to minorities.
“Leave the developing world aside; I think we are better than all of them,” Musharraf declared. “Bring the developed world and let us compare Pakistan’s record, under me, a uniformed man, with many of the developed countries. I challenge that we will be better off.”
Well, this part shows Musharraf as living in bizzaro-universe, sort of like the Bush administration. Also, note that Musharraf claims to have improved the position of women in society, a claim belied by what comes next.
Musharraf also became animated when he spoke about the case of Mukhtar Mai, a 33-year-old illiterate woman who spoke publicly about having been gang-raped on the orders of village council in 2002. Mai, bucking taboos, won public sympathy and government support after she demanded that the men be charged and convicted. But earlier this year Musharraf earned the ire of the Bush administration when he blocked her from traveling to the United States to publicize the case.
Musharraf said that Mai was free to travel now — though she has never left Pakistan — and that he had no regrets about how he handled the incident. He said Mai had come under the sway of organizations determined to harm Pakistan’s image and he did not think Pakistan “should be singled out when the curse is everywhere in the world.” He noted he had seen reports or figures about rape in the United States, Canada, France and Britain showing that “it is happening everywhere.”
There is a difference though. Rape is unfortunately too common around the world. But gang rape is less so. And gang rape by village authorities even less so. Plus rape is usually reported to the police here and prosecuted. The victim is provided help of all sorts.
“You must understand the environment in Pakistan,” Musharraf added. “This has become a moneymaking concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped.”
I am speechless. Well, almost. My reply to the General is in the title of this post. May be he’ll enjoy the riches as well as life in Canada!
UPDATE: More Musharraf fun:
Pandemonium broke out at a meeting organized to promote Pakistan’s soft image when after a confrontation with human rights activists an irate President Pervez Musharraf declared that those who opposed his policies were the enemies of Pakistan.
“You are against me and Pakistan,” said the president when a human rights activist referred to his alleged comments in a Washington Post interview which quoted him (Gen Musharraf) as saying that women exploited rape to get visas.
Provoked by a single question, the president allowed an event held to promote his government’s pro-women policies to degenerate into a bout between himself and part of the invited audience.
“I am a fighter, I will fight you. I do not give up and if you can shout, I can shout louder,” said Gen Musharraf.