Monthly Archives: February 2007

The power of the word

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

FOR three days last week, forty or so women writers from five South Asian countries along with four others from America, Russia and Peru interacted with one another in a colloquium to discuss what the organisers termed the power of the word.

Hosted by the Indian chapter of the Women’s World International in New Delhi, the meeting was designed to take up the problems women writers encounter in the course of their work. Why the need for such a moot? Jeelani Bano, the Urdu fiction writer from Hyderabad, India, posed the rhetorical question, “Why do we not ever hear of a men’s conference to discuss an issue pertaining to men only?”
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Leave a comment | Posted in Language, Women |

Profiting from the status quo

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

ASGHAR Ali Engineer, a well-known social scientist and activist who heads the Institute of Islamic Studies and the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism in Mumbai, has studied the dynamics of many communal riots in India. His observation based on personal first hand knowledge is that most incidents of violence have an underlying economic cause. There are vested interests at work trying to change the situation in such a way that they profit from it.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Social Issues |

Building defences for peace

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

THE preamble to Unesco’s constitution contains these words of profound wisdom: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” The founding fathers of this organisation recognised the role of education, science and culture in promoting peace and harmony.

Yet the world has so far failed to reach these elusive goals. But is it too late to try to build the peace structures that statesmen of yore dreamed of 60 years ago?

The answer to this question came last Saturday when the Human Rights Education Programme, an NGO working for what its name unambiguously spells out, held the ground-breaking ceremony for the Children’s Museum for Peace and Human Rights (CMPHR) that it had been dreaming of for five years. Designed to provide space for children to get together and interact, the museum will be based on the precept that “education must be life-long and socially relevant”, to quote Zulfiqar Ali, the director of the HREP and general secretary of the museum.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Defence and Disarmament, War and Peace |

Saving for the rainy day

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

PAKISTAN is a bundle of contradictions and it is difficult to make out what the finance managers want from the people. On the one hand, they are constantly complaining that Pakistanis are not in the habit of saving and the country’s saving rate is deplorably low.

The website of the Pakistan Savings Organisation carries a saying of the Quaid-i-Azam exhorting the people to save and invest in saving certificates. “Thrift as a national asset is going to play an important part in the building up of the state,” the father of the nation had said, we are told.

On the other hand, we have our policymakers attempting to pay homage to the market economy. To sustain it they feel the urgent need to give a fillip to consumerism. The attractive credit schemes — they are not necessarily attractive but are made to look so — only encourage profligacy with the state’s blessings. After having bought a car with a loan from a leasing company or a house with a bank loan which he can hardly afford and trapped in the debt cycle, can you expect the poor man to follow the Quaid’s dictum to buy certificates? The numerous shopping plazas coming up also confirm that the government’s strategy of encouraging the consumerist craze and giving a boost to the economy with demand driven growth is succeeding.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Economy |

A long, inspiring road

Reviewed By Zubeida Mustafa Source: Dawn “ON the night of June 22, 2002, our family reaches a decision.” In these words begins the story of Mukhtar Bibi (now called Mai, in veneration), a household name in Pakistan today. This ‘decision’ … Continue reading

Leave a comment | Posted in Book Reviews, Notable Personalities, Women |