Mai may be killed, claims NYT columnist
* Top Pakistani intelligence official made the threat
By Khalid Hasan
Washington: “There is a good chance that Mukhtar Mai will be murdered,” it was claimed by New York Times columnist Nicholas D Kristof on Tuesday.
In a piece datelined Meerwala, Kristof, who has become an ardent fan of Mai and who has helped her get famous in this country through his columns, quotes Mai as saying, “The traditional landowners want me dead. And the government doesn’t want me around either.”
Kristoff writes, “President Pervez Musharraf is a modern man, and I’m sure he is privately repulsed by acid attacks and rapes. In some respects, he’s doing a fine job – above all, he’s presiding over a stunning eight percent economic growth. But Mr Musharraf seems to feel that Mukhtar is casting a spotlight on Pakistan’s dark side, so he is leading an effort to bully her into silence. The authorities confiscate Mukhtar’s mail and feed vicious propaganda to sympathetic journalists, portraying her as a liar, a cheat and an unpatriotic dope of India (and of me).”
Kristof goes on to charge that a top police official has threatened to imprison her for fornication, which would discredit her and remove her from the scene. He does not name the police official. According to him, Mukhtar Mai told him, “For the first time, I feel that the government has a plan to deal with me,” the plan being to kill her or throw her into prison.
According to Kristof, “The threats have come from high up.” He says that a top intelligence official, “a buddy of President Musharraf’s, travelled to Lahore in December to deliver a personal warning. He met DrAmna Buttar, an American citizen who has interpreted for Mukhtar in the US and heads a Pakistani-American human rights organisation that is supporting her.” According to Dr Buttar, this official started by defending the President’s record on women’s rights. But then, alluding to a planned visit by Mukhtar to New York, he added, ‘We can do anything … We can just pay a little money to some black guys in New York and get people killed there.’ ”
Daily Times phoned Dr Buttar on Wednesday to confirm if that was what she had told Kristof. “Yes”, she responded, “ I was in Lahore last December when this official came to my family home to meet me. He expressed displeasure at the role that she (Dr Buttar) was playing in bringing ‘a bad name to Pakistan’ by highlighting cases such as those of rape victim Mukhtar Mai. He told me that he knew everything about me and even when I had arrived in Pakistan and my movements subsequently. Then he said that it was very easy for him to pay money to a few blacks in New York to have Mukhtar Mai killed there.”
When Kristof asked the Pakistani government why it would do such a thing the top intelligence official sent him a statement acknowledging that he had met with Dr Buttar, but he said it has been a social visit and denied that he had threatened to kill anyone. ‘The assertions to this effect are baseless,’ the intelligence official said.