Arabian Business Weekly Update July 3, 2005

President Musharraf’s widespread abuse of human rights must not be tolerated. IN RETURN for his support on the war against terror, Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf has been allowed to continue his human rights abuses unchecked. The current case taking place in the Pakistan Supreme Court, featuring the courageous Pakistani woman Mukhtar Mai, highlights once again how women in the country are treated appallingly, and how Musharraf's judiciary system is no better than Robert Mugabe's.

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By  Anil Bhoyrul Published  July 3, 2005

Pakistan needs a new leader|~||~||~|President Musharraf’s widespread abuse of human rights must not be tolerated. IN RETURN for his support on the war against terror, Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf has been allowed to continue his human rights abuses unchecked. The current case taking place in the Pakistan Supreme Court, featuring the courageous Pakistani woman Mukhtar Mai, highlights once again how women in the country are treated appallingly, and how Musharraf's judiciary system is no better than Robert Mugabe's. For those of you unfamiliar with the facts, they are brutal and shocking. In 2002, a village council in Punjab ordered the rape of Mai, because her younger brother was seen with a girl from another tribe. Five men were later convicted of gang-raping Mai, only for Pakistani courts to later overturn the convictions — allowing her attackers to walk free. She is now appealing against the overturning of the convictions. While her plight is tragic, it is the personal intervention of president Musharraf that is nothing short of disgraceful. He ordered a permanent police presence to be stationed outside her house, after speculation the 33-year-old may go abroad. This, he claims, “would damage Pakistan's image abroad". Oh really? Maybe Pakistan's image abroad has already been damaged by Musharraf's total failure to control the terror groups operating out of the country, alongside the border with Afghanistan. Maybe it has already been damaged by Musharraf's orders for the police to round up, torture and imprison hundreds of human rights campaigners. Pakistan needs to join the twenty-first century, and in a hurry. Mukhtar Mai is speeding up the process. Getting a new president would make that process even quicker. ||**||Iran votes for jobs|~||~||~|There are many unanswered questions following the Iranian presidential election. The US is understandably concerned over new leader Mahmood Ahmadinejad's nuclear ambitions, while continuing to cast doubt over the fairness of the election process. But like it or not, Ahmadinejad is the victor and here to stay. And the reason for his surprise victory is not because of his people's huge desire to become a model Islamic state: more likely, it is because he is the man they see as being capable of delivering jobs. Iran's economy is in urgent need of fixing, with unemployment close to 30%. This is unacceptable and unnecessary for OPEC's second-biggest member. The new president has promised to give local firms first preference in the awardance of oil contracts, and make the whole process more transparent. On the economy at least, he has made a good start. ||**||World of headaches|~||~||~|Much as I like to blow my own trumpet, I will put my hands up and say that the best story I read in recent weeks was not in Arabian Business, but in Construction Week. Last week, it revealed that only 23 of the 300 islands on Nakheel's The World project have actually been sold. It is something I have long suspected, but never had confirmed. Now the truth is out, and Nakheel has some explaining to do. What happened to all those international celebrities that had apparently bought properties? When I last met with the company in May, it informed me the project was all but completely sold out. If Nakheel is indeed using the proceeds of sales to complete the project, it has a big problem. And it is a problem that isn't going away. ||**||

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