Monthly Archives: March 2006

How expatriates can help

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

THE Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP), set up in 2001 as a non-profit support organisation to facilitate philanthropy, has published a report titled Philanthropy by the Pakistani Diaspora in the USA. Based on a survey it conducted in North America in which 631 Pakistani expatriates participated, this report confirms some trends that have been observed over the years.

It also makes some recommendations, though it is not at all clear if the obstacles faced in channelling philanthropy into an institutional charity in Pakistan can be overcome very easily.

Let us take the findings first which have been reported in more generous terms than how they emerge when read with a measure of objectivity. The PCP report describes the Pakistanis in North America — mainly professionals, quite a few being physicians and surgeons — as a “generous, giving and active community”. They donate 250 million dollars in cash and kind every year apart from 43.5 million hours of volunteered time which is given the monetary value of 750 million dollars by the PCP.
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Iran’s euro game

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

THE Internet is a double-edged sword. It is a useful and accessible source of information. But it can also swamp you with disinformation leaving you totally confused and incapable of logical thinking. The issue that is doing the rounds on the Internet these days — but has not been taken up by the print media in a big way — is that of the Iranian oil bourse (IOB) that is on the anvil and is expected to trade in euros.

It seems to have assumed extraordinary importance because it is being linked directly to the current American confrontation with Tehran, which many fear would lead to war. After a similar build-up of rhetorics three years ago, the United States had attacked Iraq — and is still not ruing the consequences — so no one now dismisses as nonsense the talk of another military adventure by the Bush administration.

As is the case with conspiracy theories, there are some grains of truth in what is being said. It is the interpretation and the motives being read into the statements made and actions taken which leave one wondering about their credibility. The IOB theory goes as follows.
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WSF comes to Pakistan

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

LATER this month — from March 24 to 29 to be precise — Karachi will play host to an international gathering that will be a phenomenon not experienced before in this city. This will be the World Social Forum (WSF) that, according to the organizers, is expected to draw a crowd of 30,000 of whom 10,000 will be foreign participants.

It is not so much the size of the gathering — the 2004 Forum in Mumbai had attracted 130,000 people — but the concept and motive of this meeting that gives it such an exciting dimension.

The WSF was first organised in Porto Alegre in Brazil in 2001 by eight Brazilian civil society organisations which described it as an “open democratic space for debates of ideas and multiple and plural reflections on the development of alternatives” to the neoliberal policies, imperialist behaviour and globalisation that we are witnessing today. It is designed to be an antidote to the capitalist thrust that has come in the wake of the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the socialist bloc.
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Women say ‘no’ to war and violence

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

MARCH 8 is International Women’s Day which is generally an occasion for stock taking on the status of women. As the world has moved towards a violent future and governments have focused more on what they term national security in the military context, they have lost sight of the issues that actually form the basis of true security — human rights, social justice, education, liberty, health care and the quality of life provided to the people. As such the women’s cause has also come to be overwritten by security issues.

As a result women’s movements worldwide have undergone a shift in paradigm and they have taken up causes which are not really gender-specific. They are now fighting for issues that affect men and women equally. If women are in the lead it is because they are mobilized and have developed the art of protesting in such a way as to make the maximum impact. At no stage have women tried to exclude men who have always been invited to join hands with them to struggle for a cause that is of concern to both.
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The pain of being displaced

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

IN LATE January some members of the Hindu community living in Rehmatia Colony on the south bank of the Lyari river in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Town — now razed to the ground to give the right of way to the Lyari Expressway Project (LEP) — approached me to narrate their tale of woe.

They had been displaced when their jhuggis were bulldozed. That is how Somi, Seeta, Mitha, Jeeta and about 100 others, including children, were left without a roof above their head on a wintry January day. They had become victims of the phenomenon called development-related forced displacement.
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