Media’s role in war and peace

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

AT a time when the media in India and Pakistan is virtually driving South Asia to the brink of war, it is sad that journalists’ professional bodies have failed to moderate the hype that has been created. The only voice of sanity to be raised was that of 22 editors from the region — only three from Pakistan — in the form of a release issued by Kanak Mani Dixit, the editor of the South Asian magazine Himal (Kathmandu).
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Fading dream of social justice

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

IT wasn’t such a long time ago when a simple, soft-spoken man dressed in khaddar wearing dark-rimmed glasses used to be a familiar figure in Dawn’s office.

He would drop by for a chat to tell us about his social engineering experiments he was undertaking in Orangi, once described as Asia’s largest slum. Whether it was the drainage scheme, the school programme or the health plan he was dilating on excitedly, his zeal was always infectious. It compelled you to visit his projects to learn about them.
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No Time for War: A Call for Peace Amid Rising Nuclear Tensions between Pakistan and India

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: The WIP

Peace activists in Pakistan and India are attempting desperately to be heard above the din raised by warmongers – elitist by all counts and claiming to be patriotic as well – in the wake of the Mumbai carnage. Jingoism is in the air – be it from so-called nationalists (posing as analysts on television) advocating a nuclear attack for the defense of their country, or the man on the street. Be they from Pakistan or India, they speak of war with great abandon as if it is child’s play. For the electronic media it is a race for sensationalism.

• Peaceful protests are being held throughout Pakistan in what many are calling the most significant mobilization for peace in the country's recent history. Photograph by Naeem Sadiq. •

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Defeating Food Price Inflation: A Kitchen Garden in Every Home

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: The WIP

Pakistan has been hit by severe food price inflation – the worst in its 61-year history. The prices of many basic food items have more than doubled in the last year and poor families are now spending two thirds to three quarters of their monthly income on their meals alone.

• As food prices rise in Pakistan, some are turning to home gardens to put food on the table. Photograph courtesy of OPP-RTI. •

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An Exercise in Self-Help: Pakistan’s Garage School Offers Its Students a Way Out of Poverty

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: The WIP

Anil is now a young man of 19, studying for his high school examinations at Bahria College. He is also working a summer job with a cell phone company to earn a few extra rupees for his family.

• Shabina (standing at left) and her first group of students at the original Garage School site. •

I have known Anil since he was a child, when he joined The Garage School in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi where he lived with his family. The school opened in 2000 when Shabina, an enterprising widow, decided to utilize her garage space to help poor children acquire some education. Anil was amongst the first 15 or so children who enrolled. Today he acknowledges, “Under the discipline and guidance of Madam, my life has changed.”

Female Workers Break Stereotypes in Karachi

On a narrow, unpaved Karachi street that has never had water service, a handful of men were digging a trench recently. They were digging it for their own water line, at their own expense.

For this part of Karachi, that’s normal. But surprisingly, for this part of the world, a woman was supervising the men.

Sabra Khadun has a cold, steady gaze and a stud in her nose. She explains that everybody on the street is donating money for the water line.

by Steve Inskeep

Sabra Khadun and neighbors are digging a water line. They have been buying water in tanks, but it has become too expensive.
Sabra Khadun and neighbors are digging a water line. They have been buying water in tanks, but it has become too expensive.
Tracy Wahl/NPR

On a narrow, unpaved Karachi street that has never had water service, a handful of men were digging a trench recently. They were digging it for their own water line, at their own expense.

For this part of Karachi, that’s normal. But surprisingly, for this part of the world, a woman was supervising the men.

Sabra Khadun has a cold, steady gaze and a stud in her nose. She explains that everybody on the street is donating money for the water line.

She lives in a tiny house, in a settlement that you could call a slum. The living room is painted pastel blue. And there’s a cushioned wood couch, big enough to hold a few of her 11 children — four sons and seven daughters. Every child’s name begins with the letter “S,” just like hers.

Parveen Rehman left a job at a high-end Karachi architectural firm to join the Orangi Pilot Project, a nongovernmental organization that supports people living in illegally built settlements.
Parveen Rehman left a job at a high-end Karachi architectural firm to join the Orangi Pilot Project, a nongovernmental organization that supports people living in illegally built settlements.
Tracy Wahl/NPR

It’s not unusual to find women in leading roles in Karachi’s development. At the city’s public universities, female students vastly outnumber the men in key fields like architecture.

People aren’t sure why, but it’s happening.

One of Karachi’s former architectural students is Parveen Rehman. She started her career dismayed by the work she was doing.

“When I graduated, I was very confused,” she says.

Rehman worked for a famous architect, designing a hotel, when she decided to walk out and change course. She ended up going to work instead for an organization called the Orangi Pilot Project. It gives poor people the help they need to dig their own sewers, or water lines, when the government does not.

Rehman vividly recalls something that she heard from the project’s male founder, who spoke of the power of women. He compared himself to a grandmother — “not your grandfather, because your grandmother gives love … and through love she’s able to encourage and make people grow.”

Women are active in the development of Karachi, but Rehman says “they do not like to publicize” their roles.

‘Gentle but Persuasive’

A woman “is in charge of the entire house, [the] entire budget,” Rehman says. “And if she’s not convinced, no money can be let out for the development. No house can be improved, no child can go and get educated. It’s a woman who [makes] the decision.

“But when you go into some house, a man will come and talk and be very upfront and high profile, because by nature the women have been very gentle but persuasive. They know how to persuade their men … to do the things that they want to get done.”

Dealing with government officials initially was difficult for women, Rehman says. If women told an official, ” ‘You do this, you do that’ … he would start avoiding us. There’s a lot of things he can’t do. The system is such. But now we go and we say, ‘We want your advice. Please tell us what to do,’ and they feel very happy.

“I feel sometimes — not with men and women — with any group, if you come just upfront and try to be … the person taking credit for everything, that’s where things start going wrong,” she says. Once you rise up horizontally, you take everybody with you. But if you want to rise vertically, you will rise, but then nobody will be there for you.”

Rehman heads a research center in Orangi, a section of Karachi. She also teaches a college class in architecture. The list of students right now includes 11 women — no men.

It’s not unusual to find women in leading roles in Karachi’s development. At the city’s public universities, female students vastly outnumber the men in key fields like architecture.

People aren’t sure why, but it’s happening.

One of Karachi’s former architectural students is Parveen Rehman. She started her career dismayed by the work she was doing.

“When I graduated, I was very confused,” she says.

Rehman worked for a famous architect, designing a hotel, when she decided to walk out and change course. She ended up going to work instead for an organization called the Orangi Pilot Project. It gives poor people the help they need to dig their own sewers, or water lines, when the government does not.

Source: NPR

Futile chase for justice?

Reviewed By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

They Hang 12 women in my
portrait gallery
By Syeda S. Hameed
Women Unlimited,
New Delhi, India
ISBN 81-88965-26-X
183pp. Indian Rs275

Violence against women has now come to be recognised as a widespread phenomenon that has historical antecedents. As many as 69 per cent of women have reported being physically abused by a man in their lifetimes, the UNFPA reports. Hence there have been organised and collective efforts by the United Nations to address this problem in a bid to check it. With so much being said and written about gender-related violence, one would not have expected a book on this subject to shock its readers.
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