Yearly Archives: 1997

A scholar and a gentleman

By Zubeida Mustafa

Has Pakistan been reduced to such a hopeless state that even the most creative and prolific of intellectuals have run out of ideas on how the country can be redeemed? Hopefully not. But a meeting with Professor Khalid Bin Sayeed provided no reassuring answers. It left me wondering how Pakistan will be saved from certain disaster and who will play the role of the savior. Continue reading A scholar and a gentleman

Fits and Starts


Waiting for their turn

By Zubeida Mustafa

According to experts from WHO, nearly one out of ten people in Pakistan suffer from mental illness at one stage or another in their lives. It is estimated that 14 million people in the country and 1.2 million in Karachi need psychiatric attention. There are only 200 psychiatrists and 3500 hospital beds to take care of these patients.

Appalling figures no doubt. They, however, do not tell the whole story. Since psychiatric conditions are not major killers they tend to be ignored. Yet the fact is that out of the ten leading causes of disability (in terms of the number of years lived with disability) five are psychiatric disorders. They are debilitating and account for a tenth of the disease burden in all societies.

Continue reading Fits and Starts

Commission Report too good to be real

By Zubeida Mustafa

The women of Pakistan have received the best gift they could have wished for on the golden jubilee of the country’s independence. A commission headed by the Supreme Court judge, Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid, has presented a report to the government on the status of women. If its recommendations are accepted and implemented it would be like a dream come true. But will that happen?

Continue reading Commission Report too good to be real

Let there be light

By  Zubeida Mustafa

For four years an eye hospital has been functioning quietly and unobtrusively at Nagan Chowrangi in New Karachi. Not much fanfare attended its opening in July 1993. No political dignitary was invited to grace the occasion. Even today not many people know about the existence of this hospital, except for those who benefit from the services it offers nearly free of cost.

Continue reading Let there be light

Women and gender inequalities

By Zubeida Mustafa

WOMEN’S STUDIES WOMEN’S LIVES:THEORY AND PRACTICE IN ASIA edited by Committee on Women’s Studies in Asia. 208 pp. Rs 260. Published by OxfordUniversity Press, Karachi.

This is a book on Women’s Studies. But it is publication with a difference. It does not adopt the conventional format to define this newly emerged discipline in the academia. Jt seeks to look into the subject through the lives of thirteen women who are teaching/researching Woman’s Studies.

Coming from Asian countries as diverse as Pakistan, China, Korea and Indonesia, the writers give an account of how they became aware of gender inequalities and what led them into taking up Women’s Studies as a subject of investigation.

The accounts are naturally as diverse as are the backgrounds of the writers. Thus Fanny M. Cheung of Hong Kong became aware of the burden women carry when she worked with rape victims as a psychologist. For Li Xiaojiang of China the hour of awakening came early. Her reaction to her sexuality was one of contempt which drove her on to emulate men. When she encountered obstacles in her drive to succeed in her career she turned to research to analyse the factors which made professional life such a challenge for a woman. Nora Lan-hung Chiang learnt of her secondary status when she went to Taiwan with her husband to live in an extended family. Continue reading Women and gender inequalities

Who is the real criminal?

cplcBy Zubeida Mustafa

In August 1994, my car, an old Suzuki, was snatched at gun point. It was recovered the next day by the police after an encounter they claimed. This experience of my car being taken away by force and then the tedious process of obtaining it back from the custodians of the law was a traumatic one. Had the CPLC and the Deputy Commissioner (South) not intervened I might have remained deprived of my car.

The situation is no better today for the unfortunate ones who fall victim to car robbers. And there are still far too many of them. Athough the statistics released by the CPLC, which has an excellent computerise records system, show wide fluctuations in the incidence of this brand of crime. Continue reading Who is the real criminal?

Not in silence



Rabab Naqvi
Rabab Naqvi

By Zubeida Mustafa

SHE lives by herself in a beautiful house surrounded by tall trees in Baie d’Urfe on the outskirts of Montreal. Twice robbershave broken into her home.But that has not made Rabab Naqvi any less determined than she is today. Life for a singlewoman can be difficult even in the more liberated and tolerant Canadian society. A few years ago she had a fall and fracturedher leg and she had to fend for herself, depending on some good friends for support. Yet she plans on staying permanently in Canada after she retires. “I might consider visiting the subcontinent, basing myself in Lucknow where my sisters live to study and research the issues close to my heart. But I would never like to give up my links with my friends and professional colleagues in Canada,” she says after a pause. Continue reading Not in silence

John Hadfield: Passage to Pakistan


By Zubeida Mustafa

 John Hadfield has been visiting Pakistan every year without fail since the late sixties. He has lost count but Is certain that his latest trip to this country this month was his thirtieth. If not more. He says he Is happy here and feels at home, In fact when he was very ill a few years ago, his wife helped him get to his feet by urging him to recover fast so that he could undertake his annual pilgrimage to Pakistan. ‘It was a bit of psychotherapy she tried and It worked,’he remarks.

His mission? To conduct post-graduate surgery courses for Pakistani doctors. These courses are held every year in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar and according to a rough calculation at least a thousand Pakistani surgeons have benefited from his training. A number of them have attended his courses in Britain and two — the late Haziqul Yaqeen (of KV SITE Hospital, Karachi) and Mahmood Chaudhri (of Sheikh Zayed Hospital, Lahore) — have actually worked under him as his registrars. What is more, Mr Hadfield (the British conventionally do not prefix the title doctor before a surgeon’s name) does not charge a penny for the courses he conducts here. He even pays from his own pocket for his air ticket from London.

And yet when John Hadfield applied for a visa for one of his umpteenth visits, his application was turned down by the visa officer in the Pakistan High Commission in London. He had described the purpose of his visit to be to conduct a course which was not considered to be a valid enough reason for a trip 5,000 miles away. A senior official was more sensible and Mr Hadfield was allowed to come. The following year he simply described himself as a tourist and was promptly issued a visa. Continue reading John Hadfield: Passage to Pakistan