Pakistans turistminister, Nilofer Bakhtiar, ga mandag etter for presset fra de ekstreme religiøse og trakk seg fra stillingen. Et foto av henne som klemmer en fransk instruktør var i deres øyne obskønt.
Bakhtiar hoppet i fallskjerm under et veldedighetsarrangement til inntekt for barna som var jordskjelvofre. Men slike hensyn spiller ingen rolle for de religiøse.
Bakhtiar fikk ikke støtte fra sine kolleger i regjeringen, noe som gjorde henne bitter. De unnlot å forsvare henne.
Islamistene er på fremmarsj i Pakistan, og general Pervez Musharraf er svekket og våger ikke utfordre dem. I flere uker har to ekstreme imamer ved Den røde moske i Islamabad trakassert både sivile og myndighetene. Fredag tok de to politimenn til fange, mandag tok de fire politimenn, og selv om de ble sluppet løs, holder de fortsatt de to. Og myndighetene tør ikke gripe inn av frykt for en konfrontasjon med islamistene. Imens glir initiativet ut av hendene på Musharraf.
The Pakistani Tourism Minister resigned yesterday after hardline Islamic clerics accused her of obscenity for hugging her instructor after a charity parachute jump.
Nilofer Bakhtiar was photographed in brightly coloured jumpsuit and hugging her instructor after a tandem jump to raise money for child victims of the earthquake that struck Pakistan in October 2005.
The images provoked the wrath of clerics in Islamabad, who accused Ms Bakhtiar of posing in an obscene manner and violating the Islamic moral norms.
A religious court set up by the clerics at a radical mosque in Islamabad issued a fatwa, or religious edict, against Ms Bakhtiar when the photographs appeared in local newspapers last month. They urged the Government to punish her and dismiss her from the Cabinet. Ms Bakhtiar failed to win the support of Cabinet colleagues and the Government appeared to cave in to the demands of the militants.
As she announced her intention to resign yesterday, Ms Bakhtiar complained of a campaign of intimidation against her. This month she was sacked as head of the women’s wing of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League.
Ms Bakhtiar denounced the fatwa against her, saying that it had no legal, religious or moral authority. The photographs showed her being congratulated for making the jump at a charity event in France and that the allegations of immoral behaviour were baseless, she said. She had no regrets and would do it again happily if it helped the people of Pakistan.
Ms Bakhtiar told a Senate standing committee that her life was under threat. Human rights and political activists and many other Pakistanis had condemned the campaign against her and expressed support. But the Government did not take any action against the clerics, who are campaigning for the establishment of Taleban-style conservative Islamic rule in the capital, and instead urged her to resign. The clerics have already set up a parallel justice system and openly promote vigilantes in the city.
In a newspaper interview published yesterday Ms Bakhtiar said that she was disappointed that her Cabinet colleagues had not stood by her and hurt by the way that her jump had been sensationalised.