NGOs want apology from Musharraf
PESHAWAR: The Alliance for the Protection of Human Rights in NWFP (APHR) demanded a public apology from General Musharraf on Friday for making an “irresponsible, insulting and insensitive” statement regarding gang rapes in Pakistan.
The alliance, comprised of eight non-governmental organisations (NGOs), was outraged by General Musharraf’s statement in an interview with the Washington Post in New York on September 14, in which he said rape had become a moneymaking business in Pakistan, as women got raped to either become rich or obtained Canadian visas.
In a joint press statement, Yasmeen Begum of Shirkat Gah, Rukhshanda Naz of Aurat Foundation, Bushra Gohar of the Human Rights Management and Development Council, Aijaz Qasim of SPO, Jamila Gillani of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Samina Khan of Sungi, Maryam of Khwendo Kor and Zubaida Khalid of Noor Education Trust termed Gen Musharraf’s statement “an insult and utter humiliation, not only to Pakistani women, but also to the entire nation.”
They said such a despicable statement by the head of the state on a very sensitive human rights issue was unprecedented and that the statements were made mainly to cover up the state’s persistent failure to address the causes of increasing human rights violations, particularly women’s rights violations, in the country.
The NGOs representatives said this was also an indication of the Pakistani government’s failure to improve access to justice in the country. While the government made claims of improving the plight of women in the country, they argued the ground realities were diametrically opposite, with the state providing protection to the perpetrators of violence and punishing the victims.
The existence of discriminatory laws in the statute books showed the continued tolerance towards violence in the country, said the NGOs. The alliance believed such an “irresponsible and degrading statement” by General Musharraf was the result of his displeasure and irritation with the human rights and civil society groups for not siding with him in glossing over and gagging victims of violence. They felt it was a reaction against the NGOs for raising concerns over the rampant human rights violations in the country at national and international forums.
They said the APHR was planning to consult other civil society and human rights groups to form a strategy to protest Mr Musharraf’s statement and set the precedent for a long-term struggle for the protection of human rights.