Monthly Archives: April 2012

Restless soul at rest

Murtaza Razvi (Courtesy: Dawn)

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE headline above is not mine. It is Murtaza Razvi’s, a colleague and friend from Dawn. I have borrowed it from the obituary he wrote of his mother, a writer, for Dawn’s Books & Authors when I was editing it.

Now, a decade later, it gives me a sense of sadness to use the same words for Murtaza whose life was cut short so brutally a week ago. It was January 2002. Murtaza’s mother Zaheena Tahir had passed away in Lahore. On his return after her funeral, he had resumed work. As I condoled with him, we talked about what mothers meant to their children even after they were no longer children. He told me about Zaheena Tahir and her writings. I was fascinated and asked him if he would like to write a piece on her literary work for me. He agreed. Continue reading

12 Comments | Posted in Books, Culture and the Arts, Education, Media, Notable Personalities |

Education in a quandary

By Zubeida Mustafa

IN today’s age “of the one per cent, for the one per cent, and by the one per cent” (to quote Joseph Stiglitz) to seek equality — especially in education — amounts to looking for utopia.

Therefore the South Asian Forum for Educational Development, Idara-i-Taleem-o-Agahi (ITA), and other partners were brave to have ‘quality-inequality quandary’ as the theme of the regional seminar they organised in Lahore earlier this month. The idea was to get proposals to resolve this quandary. Continue reading

10 Comments | Posted in Development and Poverty, Education, Human Rights |

A century of bookselling

Focal point for scholars: (l to r) Dr Noman Naqvi, Prof Patrick Laude, Habib Abbasi, Noman Baig-- Pix courtesy Patrick Laude

By Zubeida Mustafa

NOT many readers would have visited Juna Market, the commercial hub of Karachi where hardware and spices compete with halwa puri to find buyers.

In the ocean of commodities catering to hedonistic pleasures stands a lone modest-looking bookshop that seeks to nourish the mind. It has been doing that for 102 years, an anomaly among its worldly surroundings. Continue reading

13 Comments | Posted in Books, Culture and the Arts, Education, Library, Notable Personalities |

Empowering Pakistani Women through Education and Family Planning

Source: The WIP

A happy family: Zahoora with husband Rahib Ali and three children at their ‘Safe Space’. Photograph courtesy of the Indus Resource Centre.

Empowerment is opening up new spaces for personal development for women in Pakistan. As opportunities for education come within their reach women are learning how to upgrade their lives. This has brought the realization that a big family may not be a blessing, and can actually handicap women. This is a big leap from where women were a few years ago, when motherhood was widely regarded as a status symbol. The more male children women had the more respect they could command. Sons brought a sense of security as they consolidated a woman’s position in the household and ensured that a second wife would not displace her.
As women become empowered through education and work, some are opting for small families.
Continue reading

4 Comments | Posted in Development and Poverty, Education, Population, Women |

Catalysts for Change

By Zubeida Mustafa

When it comes to laws governing women’s rights, it is easy to get caught up in a chicken first or egg first debate. Should laws precede social change or should it be the other way around? Can laws change ground realities? Or do changes in society force the pace of legislation?

These questions are nothing new in Pakistan’s context. This month the International Women’s Day will, once again, bring into focus this debate because the gap between the laws and their implementation has been widening. If one were to see the state of oppression of women in the country today – the incidence of violence against them is growing horrendously – it is quite difficult to believe that such pro-women laws are there on our statute books. But conversely, laws that promise justice and equality – even though they are merely symbolic – do serve as catalysts for change if there are activists around to take up the women’s cause.
Continue reading

4 Comments | Posted in Human Rights, Women |

Take away the guns, please

By Zubeida Mustafa

KARACHI is burning again. Almost 40 people were killed in the last week or so of March. Three strike calls disrupted life in the city and the loss to production is estimated by industrialists and traders to be Rs20bn.

Those believed to be provoking violence are not outlaws operating outside the political system. They are parties that were elected by the people whose life and property they are expected to safeguard.
Continue reading

8 Comments | Posted in Defence and Disarmament, Human Rights, Politics |