Clash Erupts Over Pakistan’s Gang-Rape Case
Police beat back demonstrators from the gates of Parliament on Thursday when former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto sought to highlight charges that officials organized the gang-rape of her friend.
Watched by Pakistan’s political elite, Bhutto led her Pakistan People’s Party, chanting “Fascists,” in an unprecedented walkout from President Ghulam Ishaq Khan’s ceremonial address to a new session of Parliament.
Ishaq Khan denied any official complicity.
Firing tear-gas canisters and swinging batons, police later drove 2,000 Bhutto supporters away from the heavily guarded building.
It was the most dramatic protest in 12 days of mounting furor since Farhana Hayat, the father of Bhutto’s friend and dressmaker, Veena Hayat, alleged publicly that his daughter had been gang-raped.
The Hayat family and Bhutto have produced what they say is the authenticated police record of her formal complaint--that she was raped Nov. 27 at her Karachi home by five gunmen who said they had been sent by Irfanullah Marwat to punish her for her links to Bhutto.
Marwat, a son-in-law of the president, denies the charge.
The alleged attack on a woman from Pakistan’s elite has provoked threats of vengeance from Hayat’s Khattar tribe and emotional protests by women in other cities.
“She was raped to send me a message,” Bhutto said. “This is the worst kind of male prejudice, male chauvinism to send a message to a woman political leader by raping her friend, her supporters.”