Monthly Archives: June 2011

Performance and the image

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

A CORPS commanders’ conference held recently in Islamabad noted that some quarters are trying to deliberately “run down the armed forces”. What the generals found to be most disconcerting was that this “slandering” would hurt its image.

Coming soon after three events in quick succession — the Raymond Davis fiasco, the sting operation in Abbottabad and the PNS Mehran siege — the commanders’ statement is intriguing. It appears that those who head our armed forces draw a clear line between image and performance, as though the former is not created by the latter. ISPR is responsible for creating the shining image that is supposed to help.
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5 Comments | Posted in Defence and Disarmament, Politics |

Pakistan through a journalist’s lens

Reviewed by Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

PAKISTAN has been described as a dangerous country for journalists. Since January 2010, 15 journalists have lost their lives here. But more than that, it is not a country easy to write about. So riddled is it with contradictions and so strong are the emotions it evokes that a writer must have superhuman capacity to be dispassionate and write without social, political and ethnic biases.
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Leave a comment | Posted in Book Reviews |

Book Review: Tyranny of Language in Education

tyranny-of-language-in-education-large

By Zohra Yusuf

The Language Divide

When the Bengali language movement started, leading to the killing of students on February 21, 1952, no one – and certainly not the establishment in West Pakistan – thought that in the second decade of the 21st century, this date would begin to be commemorated by the UN as International Mother’s Language Day. Bengalis have been known to be passionate about their mother tongue. But apart from the passion, perhaps they realised early on that language is an instrument of power and control. Consequently, they rejected vociferously, Governor-General Jinnah’s decision to make ‘only Urdu’ the national language of Pakistan. It’s also worth noting that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh, experienced his first arrest at the hands of Pakistani authorities when, as a student, he led a protest following Jinnah’s ill-conceived public speech in Dhaka.

Well-known journalist and a former senior editor of Dawn, Zubeida Mustafa, studies the linkage between economic and political power and language in considerable depth in her recently published book, Tyranny of Language in Education. Urdu in Pakistan was promoted as a unifying force by the early policy makers, at the expense of the rich diversity the country possesses. As the author notes:

“Man’s speech and language ability have not per se proved to be a challenge for the unity and solidarity of a nation. It is the social and political dimensions of language and its implications for the acquisition of political power that have given rise to phenomena such as linguistic nationalism, linguistic imperialism and linguistic chauvinism. Since ethnic groups also tend to be divided along linguistic lines, ethnic conflicts also have linguistic dimensions.”

Those living in Sindh would certainly agree with the author’s assessment. The province has seen many conflicts related to language, which a deeper analysis would show to have had roots in various ethnic groups’ quest for political power.

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Leave a comment | Posted in Book Reviews, Language |

Book Review: Tyranny of Language in Education

By Zohra Yusuf
Source: Newsline

The Language Divide

When the Bengali language movement started, leading to the killing of students on February 21, 1952, no one – and certainly not the establishment in West Pakistan – thought that in the second decade of the 21st century, this date would begin to be commemorated by the UN as International Mother’s Language Day. Bengalis have been known to be passionate about their mother tongue. But apart from the passion, perhaps they realised early on that language is an instrument of power and control. Consequently, they rejected vociferously, Governor-General Jinnah’s decision to make ‘only Urdu’ the national language of Pakistan. It’s also worth noting that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh, experienced his first arrest at the hands of Pakistani authorities when, as a student, he led a protest following Jinnah’s ill-conceived public speech in Dhaka.
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1 Comment | Posted in Books by ZM |

Starved for love

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn


AJAT Shah is 13. He sells sherbet he prepares by the roadside in Majeed Colony, Landhi. Shah has a dream. He wants to study — but cannot. The government school in his neighbourhood is not functioning. He cannot afford private schooling. Besides, he has to earn a living.

Sohail (16) drives a rickshaw and earns enough to pay his father Rs400 a day. He doesn’t have a dream. He probably finds it futile to dream as his life has nothing to offer. For him, graduating from rag-picking to driving a rickshaw is progress enough.
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29 Comments | Posted in Children and Youth, Development and Poverty, Social Issues |

Language can unite

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

MORE than six decades after Partition, India and Pakistan continue to be locked in disputes which even take them to the brink of war.

It is difficult to believe that people who had lived side by side for centuries now refuse to recognise the commonalities in their culture and languages. Against this backdrop comes a breath of fresh air in the form of a new book that focuses on social harmony rather than cultural discord.
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21 Comments | Posted in Culture and the Arts, Foreign Policy of Pakistan, Language |

Crushing the working class

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

THE power crisis in Karachi has now begun to paralyse life in this metropolis. The immediate factor responsible is the KESC management’s failure — or is it unwillingness? — to negotiate an agreement with its workers.

I will not go into the details — 4,500 workers were recently put in the surplus pool while 6,000 untrained men were reportedly recruited on contract. KESC’s troubles are symptomatic of the bleak state of the labour sector in the country. With the national economy in the doldrums (having recorded a growth of less than three per cent this year) expectations are not high. We know who is being hit by this economic catastrophe.
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16 Comments | Posted in Defence and Disarmament, Economy, Labour | Tagged ,

Will Sindh change?

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

IT is inspiring to see ripples of awakening run through people who have been downtrodden and oppressed for centuries. The first time I had this experience vis-à-vis Sindh was way back in 1985 when I travelled to Tharparkar.
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16 Comments | Posted in Education, Health, Social Issues, Women | Tagged