Jamshed Dasti, the rapists’ protector: Is this Benazir Bhutto’s PPP? – by Abdul Nishapuri

I have previously expressed concern about the bad old ways of the Pakistan People’s Party, which were particularly evident in the manner in which party tickets for various seats of national and provincial assemblies were allocated to candidates who were proven in a court of law to be liars and cheaters (by admitting to possessing fake academic qualifications, for example).

I fail to understand why a party with the largest popular base in Pakistan is unable to identify a single person more ethical and more sincere to the party than Jamshed Dasti and his likes when it comes to awarding party tickets for elections.

The issue is not only about personal integrity and character. It is about everything. Dasti is a case in point. Times and again he has proven that he is a liability for the party, yet President Zardari seems to be hell bent on keeping this gem in the party’s fold.

In October 2009, Dasti was found throwing baseless allegations of match fixing against the Pakistan Cricket Team, something which was also reported in the international media. Finally, President Zardari had to personally admonish Dasti in order to keep him in his limits.

Only a few weeks ago, on 24 May 2010, Dasti and his gang manhandled doctors in a hospital in Muzaffargarh that lead to huge outcry and protest by doctors all over Punjab. Arrest warrants were issued against Dasti, whose fate was rescued only through personal intervention of PM Gilani who requested the Punjab Administration to not to arrest Dasti.

Here is a most recent example of Dasti’s feats. Now this shameless man has been found threatening and harassing a gang-rape victim, Mukhtaran Mai, pressurising her to withdraw her legal case against her rapists.

What is happening to the PPP? Is this the party of Benazir Bhutto? Or is it a party which protects rapists and promotes a culture of lying and cheating?

Here is the most recent report from The Express Tribune:

Mukhtar Mai in Jamshed Dasti’s crosshairs

By Zahid Gishkori

Source: Express Tribune, 30 June 2010

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) legislator Jamshed Dasti has allegedly threatened gang-rape victim Mukhtar Mai to withdraw her appeal in the Supreme Court against the accused rapists.

In an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, Mukhtar Mai, an iconic character who came to the limelight for her brave fight for justice after being gang-raped, has alleged that MNA Jamshed Dasti is threatening her family through his emissaries to withdraw the case or face dire consequences.

In 2002, Mukhtar Mai, a woman from a remote district of Southern Punjab Muzaffargarh, was allegedly gang-raped by order of her tribal council as punishment for her younger brother’s alleged relationship with a woman from a powerful clan. Instead of living in shame, as is the case with most victims in Pakistan, Mukhtar set a valiant precedent by pursuing justice and knocking on the door of the court.

“Mr Dasti threatened me last week through his messengers in Mir Wala (Muzaffargarh) to withdraw my case from the apex court and to compromise with the Mastoi Brathery, 14 members of whom are in prison,” Mukhtar Mai said in an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune.

Mukhtar also alleged that Dasti, through the supporters of Federal Minister for Defence Production, Sardar Qayyum Jatoi, whose constituency she lives in, is putting pressure on her family in all sorts of ways.  She said that her 60-year-old father, who is a woodcutter by profession, had also been warned that he would have to face the music.

In a message to her brother Hazoor Bakhash, Jatoi’s supporters had been pressing the family to ask DPO Muzaffargarh to remove the police check post from outside their house, she said, adding that her family was in immense fear and did not know how they would survive in Mir Wala if this sort of pressure is kept up.

She said that she had visited Aitzaz Ahsan, her lawyer, in Lahore and briefed him on the situation last week, requesting him to ask the authorities concerned to ensure the safety of her and her family. Aitzaz, who she said has not charged a single penny for the case, asked her to keep resolute; the case, he ensured, will soon be taken up by the Supreme Court and justice will be delivered, said Mukhtar.

Meanwhile, when approached by The Express Tribune, an unabashed Jamshed Dasti, who is no stranger to controversy, confirmed that he had indeed requested Mukhtar to reach a compromise on the matter.

He claimed that the judgment delivered by the then Anti-Terrorism Court in the case was adversely affected by immense pressure from then president Pervez Musharraf and anti-Islamic lobbies. “I swear, the persons imprisoned in jail are innocent and the court has no justification giving the death sentence to the accused persons in a gang-rape case,” a furious Dasti said. The Supreme Court may take up the case and decide it within ninety days, he said, criticising Mukhtar as someone who distorted the image of Islam and played into the hands of non-Muslim NGOs.

When asked about Dasti’s unreserved comments, Justice (Retd) Tariq Mehmood told The Express Tribune that the statements amount to ridiculing and defaming the court, which has announced a proper judgment after conducting proper proceedings.

Also pointing out that the matter is subjudice, Mehmood questioned how anyone can comment on the case. Mr Dasti’s comment on an under trial case, he said, primafacia amounts to contempt of court; he could be summoned by the apex court, he added.

Only affected persons can file an appeal to seek justice from the court, he concluded.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2010.



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