Monthly Archives: November 2006

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 |