Monthly Archives: August 2005

Economic inequality and health

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

HERE is some new and very interesting information on the health of people. Professor Richard Wilkinson, an expert in public health and a social epidemiologist, has analyzed widespread public health data from the sociological angle to determine the physical and mental wellbeing of people.

His findings? “However rich a country is, it will still be more dysfunctional, violent, sick and sad if the gap between the social classes grows too wide. Poorer countries with fairer wealth distribution are healthier and happier than richer, more unequal nations.”

This seems quite plausible. Medical science has irrefutably established that many diseases with physical symptoms and also organic causes are rooted in the mental make-up of a person. These are, what psychiatrists term as, psychosomatic illnesses. Stress, which is one most important single factor affecting a person’s physical as well as mental health, is created by psychological factors. It is known to exacerbate nearly every illness and breaks down a person’s resistance to infections.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Economy, Health |

Reining in the madressahs

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

LAST week the government issued an ordinance requiring all the madressahs in the country to get themselves registered with the authorities. In line with General Musharraf’s approach of treating the clerics with kid gloves, the ordinance takes the form of an amendment to the Societies’ Registration Act, 1860.

The newly added section 21 also makes it compulsory for the seminaries to submit an annual report of their activities and their audited accounts while they are prohibited from teaching or publishing material that promotes religious and sectarian hatred and militancy.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Education, Terrorism and Violence |

A different kind of war

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

ACCORDING to initial British investigations as reported in The Independent, the terrorist attacks in London in July were “home-grown” and were not masterminded by Al Qaeda. It was also said that the two attacks were not connected and the bombers had worked in isolation. The matter for greater concern for the British security forces is that investigators believe that there are a number of “self-sufficient” radicalized cells in hiding in the UK.

These conclusions, correct as they appear to be, have far-reaching implications for the future of international relations. They reinforce the view that the concepts of the national state enjoying de facto and de jure sovereignty as well as the international law of war need to be given a second look. These paradigms were already being eroded in a subtle way over the years, but jurists and political leaders have yet to admit it explicitly. These issues will have to be addressed if mankind is to survive.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Terrorism and Violence |

Pakistan’s enigma of democracy

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

WITH the local bodies elections looming large on the political horizon, the usual wheeling and dealing among politicians has started. This is not something new. In the backdrop, the debate on the quality of our democracy, if we can describe ourselves as one, continues endlessly.

The main issue of contention at the moment is whether a serving army chief can be a civilian head of state. It is also contended that the devolution of power he has instituted is designed to promote the hold of vested interests on the governance of the state.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Politics |

Unlearnt lesson of Hiroshima

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

SIXTY years ago on August 6, 1945, President Harry Truman issued a statement in Washington saying, “Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, Japan and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British “Grand Slam”, which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare.”

This event, which was underplayed at the time in terms of the human devastation it caused, changed the world for ever. This is what the crew of Enola Gay, the plane which dropped the atomic bomb nicknamed Little Boy, had been given to understand.

The world did change but in a terrifying way. Hiroshima marked the ushering in of the atomic age. Historians dispute the American contention that the use of the atom bomb, that killed 150,000 instantly or within a few days, led to the quick Japanese surrender and saved thousands of American lives. The Japanese emperor was preparing to end the war even without the use of the atom bomb. Be that as it may, this is not disputed that the use of nuclear weapons for the first time transformed radically the pattern of war and international relations.
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1 Comment | Posted in Nuclear weapons |