Last edited: January 27, 2005

Pakistan Leader Outed in Political Battle, April 21, 2003

By Ahmar Mustikhan, / 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 women’s clothes.

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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