That is how they lived

By Zubeida Mustafa

THERE has been much talk of late about the distortion of history in Pakistan. Another feature of our historiography that our eminent historian Dr Mubarak Ali has lamented is the excessive focus on rulers and not enough being written about the ruled. We need more of ‘popular history’.

In that context I have found the Citizens Archive of Pakistan an innovative and commendable enterprise that should fill this void that has been growing as the primary sources of history — the people who lived through an era — are drying up. Founded by the Oscar-winning filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, CAP, to use its acronym, describes itself as the “first ever youth-led private initiative to collect, archive, study, disseminate and exhibit all aspects of Pakistan’s history both before and after partition”. Continue reading “That is how they lived”

Sister Zinia Pinto and all the others … Sorry

By Zubeida Mustafa

When I learnt of the church bombing in Peshawar last Sunday, it pained me to the core of my heart. “How could they do it?” was the question that came to my mind immediately. “How could they do it to a people who are known for their service to humanity?” I asked again. “And they are also human beings like any of us and better in many ways.”

A part of me died with those who died in the church in Peshawar on Sunday. So many of the advantages that I and millions of others like me have managed to achieve in life is by virtue of the good education imparted by the Christian missionaries and teachers in Pakistan in the last 65 years. Their passion for education and their love for humanity is legendary. By trying to destroy them, the monsters are trying to destroy us all. Continue reading “Sister Zinia Pinto and all the others … Sorry”

WOMEN IN THE EYES OF THE PAKISTANI MEDIA

By Tasneem Ahmar

Seeing what a humble individual like me can achieve with self-belief and determination gives me the most satisfaction. When I reflect on my journey, I am happy that I was able to be an agent, a catalyst for change in how the Pakistani media reports more seriously and sensitively on issues ranging from media portrayal of women to reporting disasters through the gender lens or how to talk about HIV/AIDS without going into denial.

I am Tasneem Ahmar, Director of Uks (an Urdu word for reflection), a research, resource and publication centre dedicated to gender equality and women’s development. In 1997, I founded this organisation in Islamabad (Pakistan) with a clear focus on how women were treated in the media, A concern that has remained poorly represented by organisations working on women’s rights. Continue reading “WOMEN IN THE EYES OF THE PAKISTANI MEDIA”

Who suffers more?

By Zubeida Mustafa

ANALYSING the anatomy of violence in Karachi, Kaiser Bengali, a former adviser to the Sindh chief minister, wrote in this paper (Sept 8) about the breakdown of the social contract in the city.

He defines this as the essential, implicit agreement between all interest groups on the broad contours of governance. On the basis of this, all societies function, he writes.

Kaiser Bengali is spot on. He lists demographic changes, joblessness of the Lyari youth and the rise of religious militancy as the major battlefronts of the war resulting from the end of the social contract. Continue reading “Who suffers more?”

In service of humanity

By Asif Noorani

The success story of the SIUT (Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation), starting on a modest scale and growing into a state-of-the-art medical and surgical hospital with impressive research and training facilities, gives you the feeling that all is not lost with this country. It is heartening that here is a government institution, run by a qualified and well-trained team of inspired and dedicated personnel, which offers free treatment to thousands of poor patients. What is more, they are all treated with the respect and dignity they deserve and are made to feel that medical treatment is their birth right.

The SIUT and its journey is documented by Zubeida Mustafa in the coffee table book, The SIUT Story: Making the ‘Impossible’ Possible. During the research for the book, Mustafa spoke not just with medical practitioners but also with kidney donors and many patients who have been treated successfully. With donations and help in cash and kind flowing from individuals and corporate bodies who have trust in the integrity and capability of the people running the institution, not many plans had to be dropped owing to lack of finances. Continue reading “In service of humanity”

How Perween Rehman Crossed Over

I was in class when I got the text message: “Perween Rahman shot dead.”

My hands started shaking and I could hear my heart beating. I found a computer, and clicked around so I could scan the online news sites, and see if it was true. “On March 13, 2013, Perween Rahman was shot dead near a Banaras fly-over by armed gunmen as she made her way back home from Orangi.”

News of the dead and the dying hardly shocks the way it used to. But this was different. This was Perween Rehman. Continue reading “How Perween Rehman Crossed Over”

We don’t need the noose

By Zubeida Mustafa

PAKISTAN’S leadership is in a dilemma. Should it continue the moratorium on the execution of prisoners on death row that the PPP government had enforced since June 2008?

Soon after assuming office in June, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was inclined to revive capital punishment presumably to demonstrate his commitment to fighting terrorism in the country. He naively believes that hanging criminals reduces crime.

He is now wavering. Has the outcry from human rights bodies and anti-death penalty activists shaken his resolve? Or did he change his mind when the Taliban threatened a bloodbath if two members of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi in Sukkur jail were hanged, as scheduled, in August? Continue reading “We don’t need the noose”