Monthly Archives: May 2006

Social exclusion is their lot

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

UNICEF’S The State of the World’s Children, 2006 is titled “Excluded and Invisible”. The authors of the report define those children as excluded and invisible who are deemed to be at risk of missing out on an environment that protects them from violence, abuse and exploitation.

Those children are also considered to be excluded if they are unable to access essential services in a way that threatens their ability to participate fully in society in the future. Keeping this definition in mind one wonders how many children in Pakistan would qualify as ‘excluded’.

In the physical sense, children’s “visibility” in our society is very high. You see them everywhere, even in places where they should not be seen — on the streets, in workplaces, in garbage dumps, and even in battle zones. With 4.7 million children born every year and nearly 71 million Pakistanis being under 18 years of age (about a third of them under five) it is not surprising that the physical presence of children is so noticeable. Yet a huge majority of them qualify as being defined as excluded.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Children and Youth, Social Issues |

Creating a library culture

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

THE news from the library front in Karachi will not cheer the bibliophiles. The plan for a library, that had been promised way back in 1991 by mayor Farooq Sattar who had earmarked for it a three-acre plot of land in Gulshan-i-Iqbal near the Nipa Chowrangi, has now been dropped.

A hospital is to be built there instead. Fifteen years ago, a lot of fanfare had attended the launching of this scheme that was to be designated a city library. Architects were invited to submit designs for this institution and three entries were selected for prizes worth Rs 100,000. The building plan was approved.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Education, Library |

Not a caring state at all

Reviewed By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

THIS is a remarkable book. In just 200-plus pages, it sums up everything that needs to be said about the health sector in Pakistan. It recalls its 50-year history, analyses the factors that have determined the state of the health of the nation, laments the grim statistics,sums up the changes that have taken place — for better or for worse — and makes useful recommendations. Of course, one has to be a die-hard optimist to believe that the sensible advice given by the author will actually be accepted by those who are in the corridors of power.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Book Reviews, Health |

Business and charity

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

THE Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy has prepared a report on corporate philanthropy to estimate the volume, patterns and range of ‘giving’ of Public Listed Companies in Pakistan. The findings of the PCP survey are significant as well as interesting. They confirm the changing trends in philanthropy in the country which has captured the interest of the government in a big way.

That is nothing intriguing. The government has been reducing its share in the social sectors which are directly concerned with human resource development. For instance, there was a time in the heyday of socialism when it was considered the responsibility of the government to provide basic education and health care to its citizens. Social welfare, from the cradle to the grave, was considered to be the responsibility of the state. Although Pakistan never succeeded in undertaking this responsibility fully, it did not reject this concept theoretically.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Social Issues |

The other side of press freedom

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

LAST Wednesday was World Press Freedom Day. Observed every year on May 3, since the UN General Assembly designated it so in 1993, the day has served to remind governments and civil society of the importance of the freedom of expression. It is now universally recognised that a free press plays a vital role in strengthening democratic institutions and fostering development around the world.

Yet the right of access to information and press freedom cannot be taken for granted. In fact if anything the IPI’s World Press Freedom Review 2006 shows how this right is flouted in so many countries of the world. This document covers 188 states which include some of those conventionally considered to be the strongholds of press freedom, such as Britain and the Scandinavian countries. Some skeletons in their cupboards have also been exposed.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Media |

The incongruous partnership

Reviewed By Zubeida Mustafa Source: Dawn PAKISTAN’S political history has been chequered and turbulent. The failure of its civilian leadership to work out a stable and feasible democratic system has cost the country dear. There have been numerous breakdowns in … Continue reading

Leave a comment | Posted in Book Reviews, Defence and Disarmament, Islamisation |

Globalisation and languages

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

AT A conference on elementary education organised recently by the Sindh Education Foundation in Karachi, an issue which came under discussion was that of globalisation and language. In his well researched and enlightening presentation, Dr Tariq Rahman, professor of sociolinguistics at the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, pointed out the snags in Pakistan’s language policy in education. He also explained how globalisation was affecting the state of languages all over the world.

Quoting Dow Templeton Associates, he said, “English will become the universal language and capitalism will become the dominant social system.” Dr Rahman continued, “If this vision comes true, most languages will die and English will be the great ‘killer’ language. It is already moving towards that role.”
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Leave a comment | Posted in Education, Language |