Hughes & Boucher
Laud Mukhtar Mai at Embassy Reception
to R: Mukhtaran Mai, Karen Hughes, Richard Boucher and
Washington, DC: Mukhtar
Mai, who is here to receive a number of awards, was given
a well-attended reception by the Pakistan Embassy on Monday.
“My slogan is to end oppression through education,”
Mai said in brief remarks on the occasion. She thanked the
embassy, particularly Ambassador Jehangir Karamat, for inviting
her. She recited two lines from a poem, which said that dark
clouds never remain forever and the day will dawn when women
- mothers and sisters - would be accorded their due place
Among those who attended the reception were Karen Hughes,
US under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs,
Richard Boucher, assistant secretary of state for South and
Central Asia, assistant secretary Shirin Tahirkheli and a
sizeable number of Pakistani Americans. Also on hand were
the visiting chairman of the Senate, Muhammadmian Soomro,
and Dr Salman Shah, advisor to the prime minister on finance
and economic affairs.
Karen Hughes praised the great courage shown by Mukhtar Mai
and lauded her message of putting an end to by relying on
education. She said she believed strongly in the mission of
educating women, particularly young girls. “I believe,
she is a symbol of courage around the world and a very important
and powerful voice for Pakistan in showing that she has a
great deal of courage to share her experience, in the hope
that she might help others.”
She recalled that in her testimony before Congress, she had
praised Mai’s “courage to speak out and say that
rape is a terrible crime and not a matter of honor”.
She said she wanted to come and meet Mai and was grateful
to the Pakistan embassy for having provided her with that
opportunity. She added that she was hoping to visit Pakistan
“fairly soon,” where she hoped to be able to meet
Mai again “and learn more about what she is doing”.
Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher said, “I
admire her courage and what she has been doing, and we wish
her all success” in the kind of work she is engaged
in “and the kind of changes she is trying to bring about
for the Pakistani society”.
Ambassador Karamat, in his welcoming remarks, called Mai a
courageous woman who had shown great spirit, character and
determination in the face of adversity, and, in the process,
become a worldwide symbol of oppression against women.
He said it was “absolutely wonderful” to find
that “she is also doing some great work for women and
children in Pakistan”. He stressed that she had government
support in her efforts, as well as the support and goodwill
of many organizations across the world.
“Pakistan, really, is becoming a model for empowerment
of women in our part of the world,” he said. “We
have 33 percent representation for women in local government
now and 20 percent in provincial and federal legislatures.
We have a National Gender Reform Action Program, spreading
over four years, and funded by Rs 400 million. Pakistan also
has a National Fund for the Advancement of Rural Women, which
extends micro-credit, vocational training and employment opportunities
for women who figure very importantly in our human resource
development, and more importantly, the education reform program.
There is a National Commission on the Status of Women, which
is working, and we now have a law on honor killing.”