Yearly Archives: 2012

Language in Sindh schools

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE language dilemma in education remains unresolved in Pakistan because educationists fail to understand how basic language is to the child’s learning process, as also to the psyche of the speakers.

Those who ignore this fundamental truth can undermine national integrity. If they are running schools they cannot maximise the learning advantage of their students. Language has a political dimension as well. When our leaders fail to understand that imposing a language on a people amounts to linguistic imperialism, the consequences can be grave. We know what happened in 1971. Continue reading Language in Sindh schools

Another stalwart bows out

By Zubeida Mustafa

IT is never easy to write obituaries. The challenge increases when the person you are writing about is one you have had a long association with. This chapter in my life with Dawn closed today when M.A. Majid, who was a teacher, mentor and a friend of over three decades, said goodbye. We who worked with him were left with old memories of days by-gone. Another stalwart has departed – that is the thought that struck me immediately when I heard the news.

For over three decades we not only worked under the same roof. We also broke bread together. There were a few of us – Majid Sahib, Fazal Imam Sahib, Ghayurul Islam Sahib, Akhter Payami Sahib, M.H. Askari Sahib and I – who shared our meals and jokes to fuel our energies and our spirits for the remaining hours of the day which were more tiring and demanding. That is how newspapers function – the pace of work picks up as the day wears out. Continue reading Another stalwart bows out

Aid fuels corruption

By Zubeida Mustafa

DRIVING down Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan Road towards the city centre in Karachi, one cannot miss the huge billboard that announces in chaste Urdu, “If you have knowledge of any fraud in a USAID-funded project, you may lodge a complaint in the following ways…” The host is the USAID’s anti-fraud hotline.

This unpretentious signboard comes as a reminder that corruption continues to be rife in this country and Big Brother is watching. This also helps us recall, in case we have forgotten, that we continue to live on US handouts. Continue reading Aid fuels corruption

An unfinished agenda

By Zubeida Mustafa

IT is gratifying that the government of Pakistan has conferred a civilian award posthumously on Iqbal Haider, a former law minister and senator but remembered now as one of the country’s foremost human rights and peace activists.

The award came befittingly on Dec 10, Human Rights Day. This was shortly after a reference was organised by the Joint Action Committee and a number of civil society organisations at the Karachi Press Club last Wednesday.

When the reference was held, it was over three weeks since Iqbal Haider had departed from our midst. But a sense of loss continued to haunt the occasion which brought together a large crowd of his friends and admirers who recalled his services to the numerous good causes he passionately supported. Continue reading An unfinished agenda

The lion won’t roar again

By Zubeida Mustafa

IN January 2012, I wrote about Ardeshir Cowasjee after he had announced that he was “winding down”. It was a sort of farewell to him in these pages though ARFC wrote two more ‘ad hoc’ articles in 2012. But it was not the same as reading him every Sunday (or Friday, before 1997). Many readers had written to me asking if he could not be persuaded to continue writing.

On that occasion, Justice (retd) Majida Rizvi had vehemently stated, “My request to him is to roar again and again as in the past to keep all on their toes.” Continue reading The lion won’t roar again

Death penalty should end

By Zubeida Mustafa

LAST Thursday Pakistan reported its first execution in four years. Muhammad Hussain was hanged in Mianwali jail thus ending the tacit moratorium the government has observed since 2008 when Gen (retd) Musharraf’s rule ended.

The convict was a soldier of the Pakistan Army who was accused of killing his senior — a havaldar — with whom he was embroiled in a personal dispute. This came as a shock to human rights activists who have been campaigning against capital punishment. This execution took many aback because only a fortnight ago the president’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar had disclosed that the government was working on a bill to abolish capital punishment before the elections. The bill will convert the death penalty into life imprisonment. Continue reading Death penalty should end

Sisterhood of women

By Zubeida Mustafa

RECENTLY, Judy Woodruff, the founding co-chair of the International Women Media Foundation (IWMF), summed up the goal of the organisation’s architects thus: to “promote opportunity for women journalists around the globe” and “highlight the work that women are doing in other countries, especially in those countries where there’s not a free press, and where they are dealing with an oppressive government, or oppressive financial interests who don’t want the story told”.

The IWMF wants to “provide women this extra lift” and it has been doing this for the last 22 years since it was launched by a group of enterprising women journalists. It exemplifies perfectly the global sisterhood of women that feminist activists have talked about for years. Continue reading Sisterhood of women

Zubdeida Mustafa’s acceptance speech

I feel greatly honored to be here to receive this award. I receive this award also on behalf of all my fellow journalists in Pakistan who have struggled collectively for years for press freedom which created the space for me to write on issues that are close to my heart, which made this award possible. Their struggle has been vindicated.

Also deserving recognition are the women journalists in my country who followed the path I charted out for myself. Thus they honored me. Had they not done so, I would not have earned the description of a “pioneer”.

I feel humble before my fellow professionals here, Khadija from Azerbaijan, Asmaa from Palestine and Reeyot from Ethiopia who have won the courage in journalism awards. They risked their lives and freedom and deserve our admiration. They inspire me. Many years ago in 1994, a very dear friend and colleague of mine, the late Razia Bhatti, also won this honor and that is how the IWMF was introduced to Pakistan. We learnt about the good work the IWMF is doing to encourage female journalists to realize their full potential. Continue reading Zubdeida Mustafa’s acceptance speech

Religion and Politics

By Zubeida Mustafa

RELIGIOUS extremism has come under discussion in numerous forums as incidents of violence and terrorism have increased in recent years reflecting negatively on what many claim to be Pakistan’s Islamic identity. This has left people confused because whatever is done is in the name of religion. Yet the situation is getting worse.

Has it to be so? Created as a homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent as a result of a political struggle spearheaded by secular leaders, Pakistan was soon after its birth hijacked by elements who have used Islam as a lever to gain control over society and the state. These were parties that had vociferously opposed the creation of Pakistan.

Weak and lacking in confidence, the political leadership, that constantly denied its support for a theocratic state, went on the defensive. Without the vision to anticipate what its weak stance would lead to, the Muslim League went all out to champion the cause of Islam in public life. The Objectives Resolution adopted by the Constituent Assembly in 1949 was the first demonstration of this weakness. This in due course succeeded in creating rifts between the Muslim majority and those who follow other faiths. Continue reading Religion and Politics

U.S. Media Elite Honor Female Pakistani Journalist for Her Courage

By Tabby Biddle

Zubeida Mustafa at the IWMF Courage in Journalism Awards in NYC. Photo credit: IWMF/Stan Honda

Zubeida Mustafa was the first woman to work in Pakistan’s mainstream media. That was more than 30 years ago. Today, because of Zubeida’s courage to use her voice, report on other women’s voices, and argue for hiring policies that would allow women to occupy all positions in the newsroom, life is different for women in Pakistan.

“I wanted to create space for women and I thought if there were more, it would give them strength,” says Zubeida.

Over her three-decade career, Zubeida worked through extreme political instability, media censorship, gender barriers and social upheaval as the assistant editor of Dawn, a widely-respected English-language daily newspaper in Pakistan.

Continue reading U.S. Media Elite Honor Female Pakistani Journalist for Her Courage