Thursday, 16 June 2005

Pakistani justice on menu at Musharraf trade talks?

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf arrived in Auckland tonight for trade talks, his party reportedly squeezed out of Wellington by the Barmy Army.

His arrival has prompted some suggestions that Pakistan is not really a country that we would want to do business with -- at least not at arm's length -- and the 'judicial gang rape' of Mukhtaran Bibi followed by the gag order placed on her does seem to highlight the human rights problems in this 'enlightened Islamic' country.

Former Pakistan citizen and now an American, Irfan Khawaja has had enough of supporting Musharraf's role in the war on terror. "I've offered my reluctant share of 'We-have-to-support-Musharraf- because-there-are-no-better-options' excuses up to this point, but I'll never offer another," he says. "Time to see through the General's power-lusting charade, and time for the Bush Administration and the State Department to put the pressure on this fascistic pretender to the throne."

Irfan's full commments are here on his blog, including more links to further related stories. So the question arises again, is trade a tool of liberation as I argue here in the case of China? And can it help in the Pakistani case?

Is there anything else that will? Do we want to punish the Pakistani people for the infractions of their leaders? Perhaps Clark and Goff can at least join in 'putting pressure on this fascistic pretender to the throne' through the trade deal, as NRT seems to be arguing for:
Mukhtaran Bibi may have been silenced by the Pakistani government, but Helen Clark has not. And she should use her meeting with President Musharraf to be a voice for the voiceless, to demand both Bibi's release and an end to the obscene tribal justice system which abused her in the first place.
I agree with him.

[UPDATE: Following the NYT story to which I linked above, a US State Department spokesman has said, "The government of Pakistan informed us today that Ms. Mai has been removed from its Exit Control List, permitting her to travel out of Pakistan." The New York Times says there are still questions to answer.]

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