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RAWALPINDI, June 11: The foreign office on Saturday directed the interior ministry to take effective steps to stop Mukhtar Mai, the victim of Meerawala gang-rape, from proceeding to the United States, official source told Dawn on Saturday. The government had already placed Mukhtaran Mai on Exit Control List (ECL) on June 4, fearing that she might malign Pakistan’s image during her stay in the US.

In line with the fresh move by the government, the immigration authorities at all the airports in Pakistan have been alerted to prevent Mukhtar Mai from leaving the country.

SENATE: The opposition in the Senate on Saturday protested what it called the administration’s mishandling of the Mukhtaran Mai case - putting her name on the ECL to prevent her from proceeding abroad on the invitation of Amnesty International, releasing the accused in the gang-rape and keeping her under semi-house arrest.

A review board of the LHC has ordered release of a dozen men detained in connection with the gang-rape.

Leader of opposition Mian Raza Rabbani raised the issue on a point of order, seeking a clarification from the government whether reports of Mukhtaran Mai’s name being put on ECL and her house being guarded by heavy police to keep watch on her movement were correct.

Minister of State for Interior Dr Shahzad Wasim replied that the government was determined to provide Mukhtaran Mai full justice. Keeping her name on the ECL was for the reason that “we want her case to be processed and resolved first”.

The past experience in such cases, he added, was that whenever a claimant left the country, his/her case was never resolved.

He claimed that the action had been taken some time back which “definitely had no link with her leaving the country on AI’s invitation”.

He denied reports of her house arrest, saying a security cover had been provided to her on her own request and on the demand of civil society.

He said the accused in the rape case were detained on the order of prime minister for three months under MPO and they were released by the LHC review board on completion of the detention period.

The minister alleged that some NGOs were giving a wrong twist to the issue to advance their own interests.

However, Mr Rabbani contested this claim, saying that if Mai could be put on ECL, why the culprits involved in the case were not treated the same way and why were they released by the LHC review board “working under the influence of the Punjab government”.

He said Mukhtaran was not being allowed to go abroad for fear that efforts of showing the country’s soft face to the world might get hurt.

NILOFER: Adviser to Prime Minister Nilofer Bakhtiar said on Saturday that the government would use all avenues to provide justice to Mukhtaran Mai, adds APP.

“Our legal experts are viewing the case and planning to file another suit in the higher court,” she said.

All the 12 accused in the Muktaran Mai case were freed by the Lahore High Court on Friday.

She said the government was keen to provide justice to the victim of gender-based violence and had backed Mukhtaran Mai all along and would do so in the future as well.

The ministry of women development sent a team to Meerawali Jatoi last week to establish a crisis centre for women there, she said, adding that the centre would be named Mai Mukhtaran Crisis Centre and funded by the prime minister.

She said “a school has already been established in the same village where 265 children are studying for which a seed money of Rs500,000 was donated by the president”.

On the LHC verdict, she said the government respected the court decision but reserved the right to appeal in the higher court.

“We will file a suit in the higher court and are working for this with our legal experts.”