Pakistan’s president said Wednesday that the victim in a high-profile rape case was free to go anywhere, but defended his earlier decision to ban her from traveling abroad.
«Let me make it absolutely clear that Mukhtar Mai is free to go wherever she pleases, meet whomever she wants and say whatever she pleases,» President Pervez Musharraf said in a message on his Web site. «I have full faith in her and in her patriotism.»
Musharraf’s message came a day after the Supreme Court ordered that 13 men who allegedly assaulted Mai, 33, be rearrested. The Supreme Court has overturned their acquittals by lower courts.
«I have already publicly stated that I took the decision to stop her from going to the U.S. myself,» he said.
«I took this decision in the best national interest of Pakistan because I truly believed that the invitation would have tarnished Pakistan’s international image rather than help improve the lot of women folk in Pakistan or elsewhere in the world.»
«I believe there was a strong ulterior intent of maligning Pakistan by vested interests, rather than sincerely helping Mai out,» he said. But he did not identify the «vested interests.(ap)