Facing criticism back home over reported remarks that women in his country were 'willing to get raped' in order to go abroad, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said he was only objecting to Pakistan 'being singled out' when violations of women's rights were being reported all across the world.
Reacting sharply to a query by an Indian woman journalist, who questioned Musharraf's record in defending women's rights and asked him to explain his remark in connection with the Mukhtar Mai case, the Pakistani leader cited rape incidents in India, quoting from two magazines and similar cases in the United States.
However, he said he was not trying to single out India, but only seeking to drive home the point that such incidents take place everywhere in the world. "What I object to is when Pakistan is singled out. There is a problem with women's rights and rape and violence against women all over the world," he said, adding "Every woman who is raped is not invited to New York."
Musharraf had made the controversial remark while replying to a query on the case of Mukhtar Mai, who was gangraped on the orders of a village council. Islamabad did not allow her to travel to New York on the invitation of a human rights body, apparently fearing adverse publicity for the country. But the ban on her travel was lifted following international outrage.
"It (rape) is happening everywhere. You must understand the environment in Pakistan. This has become a moneymaking 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," he had said, in an interview during his current US visit.
Musharraf said he had actually repeated a remark he had heard and alleged that certain organisations were trying to draw 'political mileage' from his comments on the case. Claiming that conditions had improved during his regime, Musharraf said he personally ordered an inquiry whenever such a case was brought to his notice.