16 June 2005
PM must challenge Musharraf over torture
The Prime Minister should challenge Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf over torture, honour killings, and disdain for
democracy when she meets him tomorrow.
Mr Musharraf arrives in New Zealand this evening.
"Musharraf is all but a dictator, and the Prime Minister will be betraying the Pakistani people if she doesn't speak out
strongly against his shocking human rights record during his visit here," Green Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Keith Locke
"It is good for New Zealand to have closer relations with Pakistan, but they must be accompanied by plain speaking on
"The routine torture of political dissidents in Musharraf's prisons has been condemned around the world, including in US
State Department reports. Pakistan's Human Rights Commission estimates 5000 cases of police torture a year, including
beating, whipping the soles of feet, and administering electric shocks.
"Miss Clark says she will be discussing counter-terrorism with Mr Musharraf. We ask her not to accept excuses from the
President that the 'war on terror' justifies the use of force against prisoners and their detention without trial. The
truth is that many ordinary Pakistanis have been terrorised by the country's security forces."
Mr Musharraf had also failed to protect women's rights, and our Prime Minister should relay our disquiet, Mr Locke said.
"At least 1500 women are killed in Pakistan each year for 'dishonouring' their families. Rape victims are discouraged
from laying a complaint. Women can even be charged for the crimes of family members.
"Three years ago, a Pakistani woman Mukhtaran Bibi was sentenced to be gang-raped for a crime allegedly committed by her
brother. She has now been detained by the Pakistani police because she dared to speak out about her case in the
"It is good that Mr Musharraf is visiting our nuclear-free country, and it gives us the chance to impress upon him the
need for Pakistan to extend the thawing relations with India to a discussion about nuclear disarmament. We should tell
Mr Musharraf that we see Pakistan's nuclear programme as a threat not only to those living on the subcontinent, but to
the whole world," said Mr Locke.