Monthly Archives: May 2012

The language conundrum revisited

PAKISTAN has failed to educate its children. This is shameful and now we have the proverbial insult added to injury.

It is in the form of the numerous myths and misconceptions about language circulating on the Internet and in conferences on education that have caught the public imagination. This creates pressure for education in English.

An article by Gwynne Dyer, a Canadian syndicated columnist, in this paper spoke of ‘The triumph of English’. It was a clever piece of writing in that it dwelt very convincingly on the importance of the English language in the globalised world of today. It also said, “The amount of effort that is being invested in learning English is so great that it virtually guarantees that this reality will persist for generations to come.” Continue reading

19 Comments | Posted in Development and Poverty, Education, Language |

Educating the Educators

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE commodification of education is going full steam ahead. Not only is education being recognised as a good to be sold, its sales strategies are also being discussed. Any good sells better if it has a brand name that has a popular appeal, we are told. Forget what Naomi Klein writes in No Logo There.

Faisal Bari’s article in these pages ‘Expanding school systems’ (April 27, 2012) came as an eye-opener. In the article, the writer appears to have written off the public school system altogether. Undoubtedly it has reached the lowest ebb and can sink no further. But does that justify an approach that apparently consigns the common man to the bottom of the heap and absolves the government of all responsibility in the matter of educating Pakistani children, Article 25-A of the constitution notwithstanding? Continue reading

11 Comments | Posted in Children and Youth, Development and Poverty, Education |

Friends pay tribute to Zubeida Mustafa

Nuzhat Kidwai of WAF reading out a narratives, How we feel about you, from a scroll at the function at the Karachi Press Club on Friday. — Photo by White Star

Nuzhat Kidwai of WAF reading out a narratives, How we feel about you, from a scroll at the function at the Karachi Press Club on Friday. — Photo by White Star

KARACHI: Women activists, intellectuals, media persons, friends and fans joined hands to pay tribute to senior journalist Zubeida Mustafa at a programme organised by the Women Action Forum at the Karachi Press Club on Friday evening.

The guest of honour, Zubeida Mustafa, who recently won the prestigious International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) Lifetime Achievement Award, was showered with rose petals by WAF workers as she arrived at the event. Continue reading

1 Comment | Posted in Media, Women |

Tragedy of the East

Of Martyrs and Marigolds is an elegantly written, powerful story of a young Pakistani woman, caught in the throes of revenge in the after birth of Bangladesh. Suri is born in the eastern part of Pakistan to parents who chose to migrate to it from India in 1947, when the British Empire dissolved its colony in the Indian subcontinent. She leads an idyllic life informed deeply by the Bengali culture, British colonial past and the social character of a country created for Muslims. However, in the rapidly unfolding violence that accompanies the liberation struggle of the Bengalis, Suri is considered to be a ‘Bihari’, a migrant from India, who speaks Urdu and therefore has no place in Bangladesh. Continue reading

3 Comments | Posted in Books |

Why no social security?

By Zubeida Mustafa

THERE was a time when it was widely believed that Karachi’s roads were paved with gold. Anyone who came here could make a fortune — even if it was a small one.

This may have been true to an extent when the pace of industrialisation was fast and urbanisation slow. The trickle of labour from the countryside was easily absorbed into the formal employment sector.

The situation has now changed totally. This stark reality emerged painfully at a conference held earlier this month in Karachi.

Jointly organised by the Pakistan Study Centre and Piler (Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research), the event was designed to commemorate three decades of Piler’s fine work for the rights of labour. Continue reading

5 Comments | Posted in Development and Poverty, Economy, Human Rights, Labour |

Courage in Journalism Awards: IWMF Selects Outstanding 2012 Winners

An imprisoned Ethiopian newspaper columnist wrongly convicted of treason after criticizing the government, a Palestinian writer threatened and beaten for covering politics in Gaza and a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Azerbaijani investigative reporter targeted in a smear campaign after reporting on corruption are the IWMF’s 2012 Courage in Journalism Award winners.

Reeyot Alemu, 31, a columnist for the Ethiopian newspaper Feteh, is in prison for 14 years after being convicted of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts and participation in a terrorist organization. Asmaa al-Ghoul, 30, a Palestinian blogger and writer, regularly receives death threats and has been beaten by Hamas security forces while covering protests. Khadija Ismayilova, 35, a talk show host on RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service who covers corruption and abuse of power by the government elite, was threatened and had surveillance cameras planted in her apartment in an effort to silence her.

Pakistani media pioneer Zubeida Mustafa — the first woman reporter at Dawn English-language newspaper who promoted women’s equality in the newsroom — is the IWMF’s 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Continue reading

2 Comments | Posted in Media, Women |

Award for former Dawn staffer

FORMER Dawn staffer Zubeida Mustafa has been awarded the International Women’s Media Foundation’s annual Lifetime Achievement Award. The IWMF’s announcement of this year’s winner came on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, which was observed recently.

The Lifetime Achievement Award “recognises a woman journalist who has a pioneering spirit and whose determination has paved the way for women in the news media”. Continue reading

6 Comments | Posted in Media, Women |

Zubeida Mustafa’s pen power praised

KARACHI, May 8: Friends and former colleagues paid rich tributes to senior journalist Zubeida Mustafa at a gathering held to celebrate the International Women’s Media Foundation’s (IWMF) annual Lifetime Achievement Award, which she was recently honoured with.

The programme organised by Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) on its premises on Tuesday included mention of the late journalist Razia Bhatti, who won the IWMF award for Courage in Journalism in 1994. Continue reading

1 Comment | Posted in Media, Women |

The pleasure of reading

By Zubeida Mustafa

IN a country where a commonly voiced lament is that we are not a society of book readers, any effort to get people interested in literary pursuits is a feat in itself.

From time to time, the National Book Foundation (NBF) has made efforts to promote the reading habit. Its latest move — previously it had appointed ‘book ambassadors’ and honoured authors — has been to institute the Bibliophile of the Year award. For 2011, Ghazi Salahuddin, a senior and competent journalist and for many years my colleague at Dawn, has been named the winner. Continue reading

19 Comments | Posted in Books, Education |

Physician, heal thyself

By Zubeida Mustafa

AS inflation spirals in Pakistan, the one most seriously affected is the common man. Decent healthcare is said to be beyond the reach of the overwhelming majority. But one man’s meat is another man’s poison and some are benefiting from the misery of the poor.

One beneficiary of this state of affairs is the pharmaceutical sector. The Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) website describes its growth of the past decade as a “success story”. It goes on to add: “About half the population has no access to modern medicines. Clearly, this presents an opportunity.”

According to the PPMA, the value of pharmaceuticals sold in Pakistan was over $1.4bn in 2007 and is expected to exceed $2.3bn in 2012. Sixty-five per cent of this comes from private spending. Continue reading

7 Comments | Posted in Development and Poverty, Economy, Health |