Monthly Archives: October 2006

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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Who is to educate our youth?

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

LAST Friday Prof Muhammad Yunus, nicknamed the banker for the poor from Bangladesh, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2006. It is an honour that he and the Grameen Bank, the institution he founded, fully deserve.

Though it has not been generally noted, Prof Yunus has moved on from his original initiative of providing easily accessible micro credit without collateral to the poor, especially the doubly oppressed — that is the women.
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Quake spending needs transparency

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

WHEN the devastating earthquake of October 8, 2005, struck Azad Kashmir and parts of the NWFP, nearly 73,000 lives were lost, 70,000 people were seriously injured and 2.8 million were made homeless. The magnitude of the tragedy was enormous and Pakistanis as well as others from all over the world responded by sending in donations in cash and kind.

Many volunteered their time and services to help the victims. The government of Pakistan rose to the occasion to extend a helping hand.

It set up the Federal Relief Commission headed by a relief commissioner with the responsibility of “overseeing relief efforts targeting shelter, food, clean water and immediate medical care” as stated by the government.
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Our profit-driven drug industry

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

AT the inauguration of the Hanifa Suleman Dawood Centre of Oncology, the director of SIUT, Dr Adib Rizvi, promised to launch a movement against the spiralling prices of drugs. His concern at what can be described as the anti-social strategies of pharmaceutical manufacturers is quite valid.

The Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation in Karachi, prescribing to the maxim ‘health is the birthright of every man’, provides free medical treatment to every patient who enters its portal.

Since the bulk of SIUT’s budget comes from public donations and it is always looking around for funds, it has to be extra mindful of its spending. It is, therefore, worrying for it that 38 per cent of its budget goes towards financing the cost of medicines alone. This trend is nothing unusual. The Pakistan Association of Mental Health, which runs a free clinic for indigent patients and provides drugs free of charge to quite a substantial number of patients, spends 25 per cent of its budget on medicines. It may be noted that PAMH’s formulary includes only the lower-priced items.
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