With the Mukhtaran Mai gang rape case drawing wordwide attention, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf [Images], who had earlier banned the victim from travelling abroad, said she was now free to go wherever she wanted.
"Let me make it absolutely clear that Mukhtaran Mai is free to go wherever she pleases, meet whomever she wants and say whatever she pleases. I have full faith in her and in her patriotism," Musharraf, who had been facing uncomfortable queries on the issue during his recent visits abroad, said in a message on his Website.
Mai was allegedly ordered raped in 2002 by a council of elders for her brother's alleged affair with a woman from a higher caste family.
The Supreme Court yesterday ordered that the 13 men who allegedly raped 33-year-old Mukhtar Mai be re-arrested.
Musharraf said he took the decision to stop her from going to the United States in national interest.
"I truly believed the invitation would have tarnished Pakistan's international image rather than help improve the lot of women in Pakistan or elsewhere in the world," he said.
"I believe there was a strong ulterior intent of maligning Pakistan by vested interests, rather than sincerely helping Mai out," he said.
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