Monthly Archives: September 2006

Foreign policy in the line of fire

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

WHEN an army general, who seized power through a coup to become the head of state, goes on to write a book — wearing all three hats at the same time — what does he produce? A book that brings him in the line of fire of friends and foes alike.

President Pervez Musharraf, whose memoir In the Line of Fire was launched with great fanfare in New York on Monday, may now find that the principle of academia, “publish or perish”, does not really hold true for a sitting president.

If anything, for a person holding high office to write a say-it-all (but selectively) autobiography can prove to be quite indiscreet given the sensitive nature of his position. After all he has several options available for letting the world know what he wants to say — the media, the diplomatic channel, public meetings, his spokesperson and direct interpersonal communication. These are better options as they do not have the air of finality about them as a book has. They also allow a leader to retract his words without loss of face. So why write a book with all the hazards that the act of putting pen to paper incurs (even if the services of the best ghostwriter, in this case Humayun Gauhar, have been enlisted)? The printed word seems to be so irrevocable.
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WAF’s long march for equality

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

TWENTY-FIVE years ago, Fehmida and Allahbakhsh were awarded 80 lashes and death by stoning respectively by a Karachi court under the Hudood ordinances. In reaction to this savage sentence, the Women’s Action Forum was born to fight against the oppression of women.

Launched by seventeen women in Karachi, WAF has grown into an amorphous, non-hierarchical umbrella body of national dimensions that brings together numerous organisations — at times over 20 in number — seeking justice for women. Regrettably, as Anis Haroon, a founder member, observed at the 25th anniversary celebration in Karachi last week, the problems they had set out to resolve in 1981 continue to haunt the women of this country even today.
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Poverty: actions, not words

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

POVERTY is the buzzword in development economics and policymaking in Third World countries today. The problem with the strategies that are being mooted to eradicate this blight from people’s life is that planners tend to focus on the monetary aspect of poverty.

It is widely — but erroneously — believed that if a person has a comfortable income to enable him to purchase the good things in life he has pulled himself out of poverty. That is why the emphasis is on employment generation and schemes to enable people to earn a livelihood.

What is often overlooked is that a dent can be made in poverty by addressing other factors as well — not necessarily financial — that will create an impact on the poverty level of a society. It is a pity that no empirical study of its kind has been done to determine what effect interventions in the social sectors will have on poverty. A person’s economic income may be given a boost not by directly doling out cash or jobs to him.
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Will justice be done?

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

THE government’s sloppy attempts to ostensibly right the wrongs committed by Ziaul Haq’s infamous Hudood Ordinances have complicated matters further.

Proclaiming himself a champion of women’s rights and in response to the chastisement that has been heaped on him by human rights activists and feminists, General Pervez Musharraf belatedly moved in August to introduce amendments in the Hudood Ordinances.

Earlier, he had promulgated an ordinance — that was widely hailed — providing for the release of all women jailed on charges under the Hudood laws.
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