Pakistan Leader Outed in Political Battle
April 21, 2003
By Ahmar Mustikhan, Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network
SUMMARY: The head of a state government in Pakistan is
caught in the eye of a political storm after descriptions of his gay
activities were leaked to the press.
The head of a state government in Pakistan is caught in
the eye of a political storm after descriptions of his gay lifestyle were
leaked to the press in bickering between the country’s spy bosses, reports
from the mostly military-ruled South Asian nation said.
Pakistan’s Friday Times weekly published an exposé
that the chief minister of Pakistan’s southeastern state of Sindh, Ali
Mohammed Maher, was gay and loved late-night dancing parties, sometimes in
In a follow-up report, the U.S.-based South Asian Tribune
attributed the press leaks in the conservative Muslim nation to an infighting
between two army generals—Ehsanul Haq and his deputy Ehtesham Zamir Jaffery—both
of whom command the country’s infamous spy agency, the Inter Services
Intelligence (ISI). The ISI was widely suspected of involvement in the killing
of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl last year.
“I commend Maher (for being less discreet than other
closeted officials),” said Hasan Mujtaba, an openly bisexual intellectual
and writer originally from Maher’s home state, from San Diego. “This is
something ideological, really mystical, as it has never happened before in
history. Not even during the Mogul era in India, when some rulers and princes
were highly closeted gays.”
The local Sindhi vernacular press blacked out the news
item because of Maher’s tribal and political clout. Mujtaba added that the
way Maher’s sexuality was presented in the “homophobic” media was all
the more deplorable.
Mujtaba said, “In Pakistan’s peculiar context, none
would come to (Maher’s) defense. This is a prime case for international
human and gay rights bodies to lobby and fight for him.”
As per Islamic law, called Shariah, which cannot be
challenged under Pakistan’s constitution, a gay person can even be sentenced
to death. Though no such sentence has ever been actually passed, the law hangs
over the heads of gays in Pakistan.
Maher’s political future appears sealed. The South
Asian Tribune reported, “The immediate fallout of the (spies’) power
struggle is likely to be in the Southern province of Sindh, where Chief
Minister Ali Mohammed Maher may become its first casualty.”
“He is finished. ? His sexuality would be exploited
beyond imagination,” commented an engineer of Pakistani origin from Miami,
while requesting anonymity.
As in Oman, Palestine, Morocco, Afghanistan and Saudi
Arabia, there are closeted gays in Pakistan’s power structure, but any
“coming out” is simply inconceivable. Public disgrace and stiff penalties,
even death, befall common gay men.
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