Yearly Archives: 2006

Do we really need foreign expertise?

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

LAST week, it was announced that in 2007 the Port of Singapore will take over the management of the Port of Gwadar. The financial arrangements, which probably are being finalised, have not been made public. This should not surprise anyone.

Has it not become a tradition for the authorities in this country to turn to foreign concerns not just to pull our chestnuts out of the fire but also to administer and manage projects that do not call for any hi-tech expertise?
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Leave a comment | Posted in Economy |

The language conundrum

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

THE government is once again about to experiment with the education system in Pakistan. The federal education minister, Lt Gen (retd) Javed Ashraf Qazi, a former ISI chief, has now announced a revised schedule for the language reforms to be introduced in schools.

From September 2007 (instead of 2006) students of class one will be taught science and mathematics in English, while Islamiat and Pakistan Studies will be taught in Urdu.

It is not very clear where the mother tongues, namely Sindhi, Punjabi, Pushto and Balochi, will fit in the new scheme of things. According to the minister, in five years the language policy will allow the authorities to eliminate the distinction between the English and Urdu medium schools and “homogenise them in one single entity”.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Education, Language |

Another formula on Kashmir

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

KASHMIR is again in the news, this time not be cause of an upsurge in violence. Once more there is talk of peace. Another plan has been floated by Pakistan.

In an interview to an Indian television channel last week, President Pervez Musharraf proposed a four-point formula that envisaged the free movement of people within the state with unchanged borders, self-governance or autonomy to the state, a phased withdrawal of troops and a joint supervision mechanism with the participation of India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Foreign Policy of Pakistan, Kashmir |

And now transplant tourism

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

IT IS ironical that at a time when the Pakistan government has dismally failed to promote the tourist trade, some unethical transplant surgeons in Lahore and Islamabad have succeeded in firmly placing the country on the world map of ‘transplant tourism’.

This is not something to be proud of as it is bringing a bad name to the country and also its medical profession.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Health, Organ Trade and Donation |

Ideas-2006: what did it achieve?

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

THE government has billed the much hyped up Ideas-2006, the fourth exhibition of defence equipment to be held in Karachi last week, as a big success. The grand display of various weapon systems with indigenised names was said to be good for the countrys image. If nothing else, it was claimed that the exhibition proved beyond doubt that Pakistan had advanced technologically and could manufacture tanks and aircraft.

In the absence of technical evaluation from independent sources we cannot be sure how much of the defence manufacturing is local and how much it involves merely the skill of assembling various parts manufactured abroad as our car industry is doing. But Ideas-2006 had a negative impact in one important respect, apart from the traffic woes it created for the citizens of Karachi. It has focused attention sharply on the imbalance in the governments financial and policy priorities. Concern was voiced frequently in the talk shows held by television channels that the government is spending heavily on defence while the social sectors are being neglected.
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Leave a comment | Posted in General |

School adopters in a dilemma

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

THE adopt-a-school project launched by the Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) under its dynamic managing director, Prof Anita Ghulam Ali, in 1997 faces a dilemma.

Having peaked in 2004 when 251 schools enjoyed the benefits of sponsorship, the scheme now has only 150 institutions in its fold. Having shown that a public-private partnership in education can work, the adopt-a-school system has opened the way for others to follow suit.

There are a number of adoption schemes now in vogue at multiple tiers. For instance, there are schools that are adopted by private individuals and still have their links with the SEF. There are other schools that have been adopted with encouragement from the Sindh education department that has created partnerships to ease its own financial burden — the private sector enters the scheme to pay for the adopted school’s physical infrastructure.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Education |

Where have they vanished?

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

MANY would remember Argentina’s ‘dirty war’ in the late seventies when thousands of people who challenged the government’s ideology ‘disappeared’ without a trace. Augusto Pinochet’s Chile set a similar record when dissidents were picked up by security forces never to be heard of again.

Is Pakistan following suit? According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), nearly 600 people are reported to have disappeared in the last two years, of which 170 cases have been verified.

This phenomenon started in the wake of 9/11 when Pakistan was deemed to be the breeding ground for terror and was under pressure to catch “terrorists” and “earn bounties totaling millions of dollars” as admitted by President Musharraf. What was initially a carefully planned operation under the law of the land has grown into a no-holds-barred adventure in which the police, the intelligence bodies and the military agencies pick up people on the slightest suspicion without observing the legal processes. It is difficult to imagine the agony it causes the family of the disappeared. They have no idea if the missing person is dead or alive, and if alive, in what condition.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Justice |

Suicide & mental health

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

THE Pakistan Association for Mental Health will be looking into various aspects of the problem of suicide when it observes mental health day belatedly on Sunday. PAMH has been working for decades to create awareness about mental health and has managed to educate the public somewhat about the common disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, and personality problems.

But suicide per se has not received the attention it should have, given its growing prevalence. Informed public awareness of this issue is negligible.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Health |

The bane of domestic violence

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

WHILE lawmakers in Pakistan are still grappling with the challenge of humanising — if not actually striking off from the statute book — the ghastly Hudood Ordinances, India’s parliamentarians have moved much faster to provide protection to their women.

A new law, described as “landmark” by observers, has been adopted by the Lok Sabha and has come into effect to protect women from domestic violence. It also bans harassment for dowry and empowers a magistrate to issue protection orders where he feels they are needed.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Terrorism and Violence, Women |

We can do without the death rows

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

TWO high-profile executions — one in India and the other in Pakistan — were stayed last week. Had they been carried out, both would have created ripples beyond international borders. One was the hanging scheduled for October 20 of a Kashmiri man in India, Mohammad Afzal Guru, who had been convicted for his role in the storming of the parliament house in New Delhi in 2001.

The other case was that of Mirza Tahir Hussain, a British national, accused of murdering a taxi driver 18 years ago in Chakwal. These hangings have not been set aside. They have only been postponed — the first indefinitely and the second until December 31. In the coming weeks human rights lobbies can be expected to mount pressure on the governments in New Delhi and Islamabad to commute the sentences.

Guru’s case has deep implications for India’s politics and foreign policy. It is highly political — the 2001 event brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war and the opposition party, the BJP, is baying for blood. Yet objective opinion believes that Guru’s conviction was flawed. As his mercy petition awaits a decision by the president of India, his lawyers have said they will approach the Supreme Court in an attempt to get the conviction overturned.
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1 Comment | Posted in Justice |