Yearly Archives: 2001

Elma’s choice

By Zubeida Mustafa

It was April 6, 1992, Eid for the Muslims of Bosnia, when the Yugoslav army struck. The Serbian soldiers had been taking up position on the hills surrounding Sarajevo since winter and we sensed that something out of the ordinary was taking place. However, we never really anticipated a war. Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic society but we had never been conscious of our ethnic distinctiveness. Many of my friends were Serbs and Croats with whom I had grown up, and none of us believed that we would fight each other.

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America’s propaganda war

By Zubeida Mustafa                               Page –

IN the current American ‘war against terror’, words and images have proved to be as potentially lethal as the missiles, that the US aircraft are raining down on Kabul every day. If the bombs are designed to destroy the “enemy’s” military power, the media’s propaganda war is paradoxically directed towards the people of the United States itself. Without their tacit support, the Bush administration would find it difficult to conduct military operations against another country. This is so because it has bypassed the constitutional requirement for a formal declaration of war, he has become the practice in Washington, Hence the need to mobilize popular opinion in favour of a senseless war which will kill innocent civilians and not yield fruitful results. Continue reading America’s propaganda war

Is there a propaganda war on?

By Zubeida Mustafa

AS the American war  in Afghanistan moves  from one phase to the  next, a significant parallel  development is taking  place on the media front.  This is the propaganda  war, which has been  unleashed. For the western  television and radio  channels as well as the  press,  the crisis which has  emerged since September  11 has come as the  opportunity of the century  to make news. Continue reading Is there a propaganda war on?

Hamza Alavi: The activist academic


By Zubeida Mustafa

Thirty-six years ago Hamza Alavi shot into fame in the academia when he wrote an article in the newly-founded The Socialist Register. He propounded the thesis that the middle peasants were initially the most militant elements of the peasantry and could therefore be a powerful ally of the proletariat movement in the countryside. Since this hypothesis reversed the sequence suggested in Marxist texts — that poor peasants are the main force of the peasant revolution — Alavi became quite controversial.

That is how he has always been — controversial. His thesis labelled the Alavi-Wolf thesis (as it was reiterated by Eric Wolf four years later) is “still alive and kicking and refuses to die”, to use Alavi’s own words. It was still being debated in 1995. “I made a distinction between the Marxist theory and the practical Mao,” Alavi says reminiscently today. Continue reading Hamza Alavi: The activist academic

A new actor in world politics

By Zubeida Mustafa

IN the aftermath of the   horrendous bombing of   the World Trade Centre   in New York, the most significant   development to   have taken place is the   war psychosis, which is   calculatedly being whipped   up. This could spin   out of control, bringing   devastating consequences   not just for the region   around Afghanistan, but   also for the whole world.

The media, both electronic   and print, national and foreign,   have played a key role in creating   this climate of hatred and   fear. They got the cue from the   Bush administration’s strong   response to the events of Black   Tuesday. One could have hardly   expected the American president   to have reacted differently   in the initial moments of the   tragedy, given the magnitude of   the devastation and the   grave implications of the   breach   of American intelligence.

What comes as a matter   of   deep concern is the   emergence of the media as   a new actor in international politics. From a tool to disseminate information (at times also a propaganda weapon), the electronic media are virtually using their newly-acquired power to propel inter-state relations in the 21st century. This is frightening, given their enormous reach and ubiquitous presence in the age of cable and satellite television. Continue reading A new actor in world politics

How the laws treat the second half

By Zubeida Mustafa

The role of legislation in the emancipation and empowerment of women has been the subject of much debate in discourses on women’s rights. Can laws reform the status of women when society is not prepared to introduce changes? In other words can transformation in the condition of women in a society be brought about through law making rather than the social process? Continue reading How the laws treat the second half

Dr Mubarak Ali – With a sense of history

By Zubeida Mustafa

IN Dr Mubarak Ali’s case, appearances can be deceptive. It is incredible that this soft-spoken, unassuming man has shaken the establishment with his liberal interpretation of history. He has become persona non grata for many who do not wish to upset the apple cart — be it in politics or in the academia. Yet Mubarak Ali is one of the most prolific and versatile historians in Pakistan today. The author of countless books, he has written extensively on issues ranging from the Age of Reason in Europe to the women’s movement and the history of South Asia.
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