| Protesters at a rally in Karachi. (AFP)
Islamabad, Sept. 16 (Reuters): Outrage mounted in Pakistan and abroad today over President Pervez Musharraf’s comment that many Pakistanis felt that crying rape was an easy way to make money and move to Canada.
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has already condemned the remarks made by Musharraf, who is in the US having addressed the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
London-based rights group Amnesty International said Musharraf should apologise, and newspapers back home decried their leader’s attitude.
Musharraf told the Washington Post in an interview published on Tuesday that Pakistan should not be singled out on rape issues as other countries had the same problems. “You must understand the environment in Pakistan ... This has become a money-making 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,” the Post quoted Musharraf as saying.
Dawn, Pakistan’s leading English-language daily, rounded on Musharraf in an editorial headlined: “Wrong thing to say”. “If this attitude, of blaming rape and other crimes against women on women themselves and ridiculing NGOs (non-government organisations) that take up such issues, begins to travel upward from ignorant mullahs and male chauvinists to permeate the higher echelons of the administration, then God help us,” it said.
Amnesty International said it was outraged at the remarks by Musharraf, who is due to address an audience of Pakistani-American women in New York tomorrow.
“This callous and insulting statement requires a public apology from President Musharraf to the women of Pakistan and especially to victims of rape, sexual assault and other forms of violence that are rampant with impunity in Pakistan,” the group said in a statement issued yesterday.
Musharraf, according to media reports, told a news conference in New York yesterday that he had been expressing a commonly held opinion rather than his own.
Earlier, Canada’s Martin said he had raised the matter with the Pakistani leader during a meeting on the sidelines of the General Assembly.
Suspected Taliban militants shot dead a candidate in Afghanistan’s weekend elections today and the guerrillas warned voters they could be hurt unless they boycotted the polls.
National Assembly candidate Abdul Hadi was killed in the southern province of Helmand, provincial spokesman Mohammad Wali Alizai said. He was the seventh candidate to be killed.