Monthly Archives: September 2012

Whose child is this?

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE State of Pakistan’s Children 2011 report prepared and launched by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child puts the spotlight on us as caregivers of children.

But do we care or hold ourselves collectively responsible? Sparc’s report very appropriately quotes the iconic South African leader Nelson Mandela who said: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

A glance at the report establishes beyond doubt that we have blackened our souls. How else will you treat the following information provided by the report: 25 million children out of school; 10 million child workers slogging it out in factories and workplaces to support their families; 300,000 street children with no homes to return to at night; 68 per cent of children in Pakistan found to be stunted in 2011 with the number growing every year. Continue reading Whose child is this?

Books in times of war

By Zubeida Mustafa

A CHILDREN’S Literature Festival in Quetta sounds like a contradiction in terms. Quetta is in Balochistan and one doesn’t have to be reminded that the province is in the grip of a violent insurgency.

When I went there last week I could feel the tension in the air. Fear was palpable. So how could a festival — that too for children — be held in a place not considered very safe?

For me the festival amounted to making a political statement: children need peace. We knew that whatever the state of security, life has to go on. Yet one could not turn a blind eye to the tight security which in turn made one feel insecure. The event was not advertised and was reported in the media only after the show was over. Continue reading Books in times of war

1971 as seen by a planter’s wife

Reviewed by Naeem Sadiq

Sips from a Broken Teacup
By Raihana A Hasan
Ushba Publishing International, Pakistan
ISBN 978-969-9154-18-8
2011. 429pp.

The rattling narrow-gauge Surma train that carried a young urban bride to a far away and unknown world of tea plantations stopped at the deserted Shamshernagar Railway Station on a dark wintry night of January 1962. Little did the disembarking passenger know that her prolific and perceptive mind was already capturing the first outlines of what was to appear in the form of a book some fifty years later.

Raihana Hasan, the author

Raihana Hasan could not have chosen a more thoughtful, apt and immaculate title for her captivating book, Sips from a Broken Teacup. Each word depicting delicately woven themes that stretch from reminiscence of life as a tea planter’s wife to the traumatic events that preceded the break-up of Pakistan and finally the drama and the ordeal as the author and her family escape from then East to West Pakistan.

Sips from a Broken Teacup shows tell-tale signs of a meticulous and devoted diary writer who has Continue reading 1971 as seen by a planter’s wife

Cheryl, the peace envoy

By Zubeida Mustafa

BEFORE India’s external affairs minister arrived in Islamabad on Friday, there was talk of the low expectation of progress in bilateral relations between Pakistan and India.

We were warned against expecting anything ‘spectacular’ coming out of the visit. Do we need spectacular developments in everything we do? Mercifully a peacenik, ex-ambassador Aziz Ahmad Khan, was realistically positive when he pointed out that the ‘good atmospherics’ that exist today can strengthen the India-Pakistan peace process. Continue reading Cheryl, the peace envoy

Health for all

By Zubeida Mustafa

IT is said that modern healthcare is accessible to only 15 per cent of the population of Pakistan. In other words, nearly 150 million men, women and children in this country are denied adequate medical treatment when they fall ill.

This happens more frequently than it should, given the utter neglect of preventive health and the physical environment. It translates into poor quality of life for a huge chunk of humanity and low productivity of the national economy. Continue reading Health for all