Yearly Archives: 2006

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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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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Why Karachi turned into a cesspool when it rained

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE rains this monsoon have devastated Karachi. The impression sought to be created by the city fathers on whom blame is being heaped is that the rainfall this year was exceptionally heavy. It is also being suggested that the city has never emerged unscathed whenever it has poured. But these are myths. First of all it must be pointed out that admittedly the rain in late July and August this year was more than what is normal in lean years. But it did not set any record. In the last few weeks Karachi has had 289 mm of rain. Not a fantastic figure by any means.

In 2003 the city received 308 mm. What is more, it received 105 mm in a few hours on July 28, 2003 when the city was drenched with water which drained out from the main thoroughfares in a day or two. This year the maximum rain Karachi received in one spell was 80 mm and the water continued to flood many areas and key communication arteries for over ten days. It also flooded many homes and shops in the Clifton area that had been Continue reading Why Karachi turned into a cesspool when it rained

After Akbar Bugti, what?

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

NAWAB Akbar Khan Bugti is dead. His violent death at the hands of the Pakistan army in a targeted military operation has given Balochistan the martyr that it needed at this hour to rally people round the nationalist movement and inject fresh vigour into it. Ironically, in his death Bugti’s contribution to Baloch nationalism may prove to be greater than his role in life.

His oppressive tribalism and brutal style of ruling over his clan drove terror in the heart of many of his tribesmen and earned him enemies among his own Baloch people. He was accused of not doing enough for his people though he had been at the helm in his province — once as governor under Z.A. Bhutto and then as chief minister under Nawaz Sharif. Regarded as Islamabad’s point man in the province, Bugti could have brought prosperity and development to Baloch society if he had wanted to — until he fell out with the rulers. But all his failings will now be erased from public memory as he is mourned as the hero who fought for Baloch nationalist autonomy and honour.
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The roots of the Afghan tragedy

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

PTV informed its viewers on August 17 that the death anniversary of Pakistan’s late military strongman, General Ziaul Haq, was observed in Islamabad at his grave where many people had gathered to pay homage to him.

PTV also reported that in the gathering Ziaul Haq’s role in Afghanistan was specifically lauded. It seems there are many in Pakistan who have not learnt from history and still approve of the country’s involvement in the Afghan imbroglio which has brought us so much misery.
Continue reading The roots of the Afghan tragedy