Our most prominent "look the other way" policy has been towards Pakistan dictator Pervez Musharraf, whose invaluable assistance in the War on Terror led to a swift capture, trial, and execution of Osama Bin Laden.
Well, maybe after taking the hallucinogens they dish out in Outer Wingnuttia, they did. In the real world, Osama Bin Laden is out in the mountains mooning us daily, and Pervez Musharraf is behind atrocities like this one, brought to us by Ezra Klein:
Mukhtaran Bibi is under arrest. You remember her, in a world of Jackos and Rumsfelds and celebrity relationships and deified presidents, Bibi is an actual hero, a Mandela-esque story of courage and forgiveness. She's a Pakistani women whose brother committed a crime and, under the barbaric codes sometimes enforced in rural Pakistan, was condemned to public, forced gang rape to atone for him. When the four men had finished raping her, she was forced to walk home, nearly nude, while hundreds of onlookers laughed and jeered.
She was supposed to die.
If all had gone as planned, she would've grabbed a knife and slit her throat, or maybe her wrists. She would've accepted that she had been sacrificed for a male, that it was more than a fair trade, and that no one could move on until the last spark of life had vanished behind her eyes. And she would've hurried up and and finished the affair.
All did not go as planned.
The knives stayed in the drawer. Her nude body found clothes. She convinced a local Islamic leader to back her as she took her rapists to court. They were convicted. They were locked away. She got a settlement.
One could, at this point, forgive her for jetting off. For paying however many rupees it took, settling back into a plane seat, and appyling for asylum in America, hitting the lecture rout, leaving. She didn't. Instead, she built schools. Two of them, one for boys, one for girls. She took special care to enroll the children of her attackers, banishing vengeance and cutting the generational cord of ignorance. She enrolled in her own school to learn to read. She started a shelter for abused women. She decided to found an ambulance service so the rural sick could reach high-tech hospitals. She spoke out against honor killings and rapes. And she was going to visit America.
Pervez Musharraf, our erstwhile ally in the War on Terror, couldn't have that. Mukhtaran Bibi was put under house arrest last Thursday. When she tried to walk out, police pointed guns at her. When she tried to make calls, they snipped the landline. When she moved to the cell, they took her to Islamabad and put her in prison. Then, for good measure, they released her rapists -- a warning shot.
Having Mukhtaran Bibi speak out about Pakistan's brutal side didn't fit the softer, more Western image Musharraf wanted to project. What he really didn't count on, though, was a columnist for the New York Times taking up the case and making more noise than she ever could've. And I bet he's not expecting outraged e-mails from all over the world to fly into his government's inboxes. Which is why they should be. And they should be loud, outraged, and laced with threats about how many congressmen will be informed and how much noise will be made. They should, above all, be perfectly clear on one count: if she dies, her voice will be far louder than if she lived.
Nick Kristof is the columnist, and here's what he wrote about the case yesterday.
Ezra has e-mail and snail mail addresses for who to contact to express your opposition to this kind of tactic.
And for those who think this is a necessary sacrifice to make to ensure Musharraf's continued "cooperation", go tell your wife, or your daughter, that sometimes it's OK for a rape victim to be arrested in order to keep her silent, if we need the "cooperation" of those who would exonerate her attackers.
(apologies to Jill for re-posting so much of her work here, but it's *important* work)