Author Archives: Web Editor

Magic of a teacher

By Zubeida Mustafa
A WITTY quote runs, “Doctors bury their mistakes. Lawyers hang them. But journalists put theirs on the front page.” I would add, “And teachers exhibit theirs for generations to come.”

Take the case of Pakistan where the malaise in education runs deep. It began decades ago and has increased as poor education for one generation has ensured a worse batch of teachers for the next.

Mercifully, this flaw has now come to be recognised and an effort is under way to rectify the wrongs of the past. The focus has shifted to teachers. All schools worth their salt are now providing for the training of their teachers on an ongoing basis. Workshops and seminars are held regularly. The concept of lifelong education is catching on. Continue reading

3 Comments | Posted in Children and Youth, Education, Social Issues |

The Past Was My Country Once

By Nikhat Sattar

guest-contributorSherlock Holmes is credited with the saying ‘the past is another country’. In my case, it was mine, to begin with. Forty two years later, I still find it difficult to comprehend that I am no longer a citizen of the place that reared me and instilled in me the love of all that is beautiful in God’s world. I had to leave it as a child, vowing to return, as I looked at its receding coastline. Return I did, as an adult, several times, and each time as if I had never left. I was frozen in time, 1971 and space, in Chittagong, the second largest city in what is now called Bangladesh.

Chittagong is thousands of years old, and has a rich history of Roman, Arab and East Asian trading by sea. Indeed, its name is supposed to be an Arabic derivative of Shetgang, which comes from Shatt-al-Ganga, meaning Mouth of the Ganges. There are other sources that claim that the name comes from the Bengali Chatt-Gaon, meaning rock and village, referring to the hilly landscape. A sleepy town-village of outstanding beauty, it was a magical place of winding streets going up and down the hills, huge lakes, dense foliage, large fields and pristine beaches. The overwhelming colour was green, but with heavy rains and salty sea, buildings often took on a dark hue that somehow attached itself to my memory. The Kaptai Dam, Foy’s lake, Rangamati, Faujdarhat and Karnaphuli Paper Mills , each a few hours heavenly drive away from settlements are etched into my mind like fairy tales. Continue reading

3 Comments | Posted in Foreign Policy of Pakistan, Guest Contributor, Politics, Social Issues |

Oh those Taliban!

by Rifaat Hamid Ghani

guest-contributorIt is more than a decade since the post 9/11 invasion of Afghanistan.
America now intends to withdraw from there, leaving only a token presence. If the elimination of the prospect of Taliban rule and extirpation of ‘Talibanism’ was the objective of that invasion it has not been achieved. It is also unlikely that America will subsequently be indifferent to Taliban resurgence becoming truly effective, or complaisant about its consolidating. So whose boots will stay on the ground to keep Taliban foothold from gaining space? There is a certain rationale to the speculation that America may find proxy warfare serves its unattained ends. Mercenaries cost, and international peace-keeping too has a running upkeep. Also, factor in that the world’s great powers past and present, collectively and separately, in competition as well as alliance, have more than a century’s working experience of strategic use of the porous borders between Afghanistan India and what in 1947 became Pakistan. Pakistan is in the middle whatever the perspective.

It has consistently and unabashedly been a facilitator of America’s Afghan activities and objectives. Before 9/11 it complemented CIA’s furtherance of the ethos of jihad to contain the ‘godless’ Soviet Union. Post 9/11 it too re-orientated itself and deprecated ‘jihadism’ as potentially terroristic. In 2001 it endorsed toppling the Taliban regime it had earlier furthered and rushed to recognize. Continue reading

2 Comments | Posted in Foreign Policy of Pakistan, Guest Contributor, Terrorism and Violence, War and Peace |

Where students come last

By Zubeida Mustafa

If education in Pakistan in 2013 were to be described in a nutshell, it could appropriately be said: “More of the same.”

Nothing really changed in the education sector this year, in spite of the noise made about it. Two years ago an education emergency was announced but it is now plain that nothing came out of it. The claims by the various provincial governments and political parties were no more than hot air.

There is no doubt about the fact that awareness at the popular level about the importance of education for income generation and upward social mobility has grown. Regrettably there is not sufficient realisation of the need for education to be of good quality to create an impact.
Continue reading

1 Comment | Posted in Education, Human Rights, Social Issues |

Victory in Delhi

Badri Raina

guest-contributorThe performance of the  Aam  Aadmi Party  in  the  just concluded  Assembly elections in the Capital  city of India has been, however you look at it, a phenomenal event, and very likely a watershed departure in the political culture of Indian democracy.  Indeed, India’s Left parties must wonder at the circumstance that where they have failed election after election to make a dent in Delhi’s  hitherto customary two-party political structure, a fledgling new force should have out of nowhere succeeded with the aplomb it has the very first time it chose to wet its feet.

This for the reason that  the credibility of its appeal did not remain limited to the yuppie sections of metropolitan society but, indeed, penetrated to sections of the hoi polloi who have traditionally belonged to a habitual Congress party vote-bank.   In that sense, pundits who had imagined that the campaign of the AAP would not cut across classes have been proved wrong.  One reason why Narendra Modi’s trumpeted interventions in Delhi fell equally flat—notice that the vote-share of the BJP, instead of sky-rocketing owing to the Modi infusion, has actually gone down to its lowest ever in the Capital—has been that many falanges of the petty bourgeois class, for example, auto drivers, switched to  the Kejriwal persona that seemed palpably more intimate   and more  quotidian in its temperament and quality of touch. Continue reading

2 Comments | Posted in Economy, Guest Contributor, Human Rights, Politics, Social Issues, View from Abroad |

Zahra Sabri wins Zubeida Mustafa Award

KARACHI, Dec 14: The Dawn Media Group announced the result of the competition for the Zubeida Mustafa Award for Journalistic Excellence on Saturday, with the citation and cash prize going to Zahra Sabri for her article “A Textbook Case”, which was published in the Herald magazine in December last year.

Ms Sabri’s article was amongst the over two dozen investigative news reports and news features submitted for the competition by women writers whose work was published in various accredited, Pakistan-based and English-language publications, said a press release.

The judges were unanimous that Ms Sabri’s work stood out for quality of research, clarity and accessibility of writing, and for being closest to the ideals and ideas for which the figure who inspired the award stands.
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2 Comments | Posted in Books, Education, Media, Social Issues |

Pakistan’s social development: the Christians’ role

By Amna Pathan
Guest Contribution

imgWe are all aware of how much the Christian community has done for Pakistan. It has established schools such as ours – the St Joseph’s Convent — all over the country. Hospitals, orphanages, trust funds, even entire villages were founded by the Christians as early as the late nineteenth century.

The Church of England established the Karachi Grammar School in 1847. Thomas French, the first bishop of Lahore, founded the Agra College in 1853. Three years later, The Convent of Jesus and Mary was set up in Sialkot.  In 1861 the St. Patrick’s High School and in 1862 the St. Joseph’s Convent School were established. These were the first of many schools and universities set up by the Christians, who, for the last 160 years have been educating people all over Pakistan. Their students, have in turn, grown up to educate others and spread their teachings. These missionary schools have moulded lives, and that in turn have shaped our country’s history and its future.

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9 Comments | Posted in Children and Youth, Education, Guest Contributor, Health, Minorities, Social Issues |

Writing for children

By Zubeida Mustafa

AN email circular drew my attention to The ABC of It, an exhibition of children’s books that opened in the New York Public Library last week. The NYPL website announced that literature for young readers is important as through them one learns what books are teaching children. It also added that such books reveal a lot about the societies that produced them.

This observation provides food for thought. If I were asked to devise a yardstick to measure how child-friendly a society is, I would base it on the volume, quality, diversity, content and, above all, authorship of the children’s literature it produces. All authors and poets who have made a name for themselves in the literary world by writing for adults have always found time to write for children.
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1 Comment | Posted in Books, Children and Youth, Education |

A Gentle Heart Has Been Stopped

Perween

Aquila Ismail
Karachi, Pakistan

The butterfly counts not months but moments and has time enough…Tagore

***

“Apu! You’re here! Great!” That’s how my little sister Perween would greet me every time I arrived at her door from Abu Dhabi at 3:00 in the morning, followed by hugs and kisses. The fragrance of her embrace would right every little grievance that I had with the world. She had a habit of doing this smile with a tilt of her head that renewed life and plunged me into a world of twinkling eyes, melodious chimes of her bangles, peals of laughter, and high fives.

The sentence that invariably followed was,

“Apu, I have to meet someone from the KWSB/Goth [village]/Union council/etc. in the morning, so I will leave early and come back early.”

Knowing fully well the answer, I would ask, “How early?” Continue reading

3 Comments | Posted in Development and Poverty, Perween Rahman, Terrorism and Violence, Women |

Kudos to SIUT, for ‘making the impossible possible’

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(Karachi) Glowing and touching tributes were heaped on the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) Director, Dr Adeebul Hassan Rizvi, and international award winning journalist Zubeida Mustafa, the former for having rendered yeoman’s service to the sick, the needy and the underprivileged across the length and breadth of the country, and the latter for having brought these achievements on record through her book, “The SIUT story: making the ‘impossible’ possible”.

The occasion was the launch of Mustafa’s above-noted book at the Mohatta Palace Friday evening.

Ghazi Salahuddin, noted journalist and columnist, recalled the time when Dr Adeebul Hassan Rizvi was a student leader and paid him tribute for not having let his idealism wane and for remaining true to his ideals for the betterment of society. Continue reading

5 Comments | Posted in Books by ZM, Health, Organ Trade and Donation, SIUT, The SIUT Story |