Category Archives: Development and Poverty

Women in poverty

By Zubeida Mustafa

AS Pakistan goes through turbulent times on the political and economic fronts, women sink deeper and deeper into poverty. No one seems to care, least of all those leaders who are responsible for the public chaos, the economic uncertainty and insecurity they have created by their casual stance on serious issues.

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Happy children

By Zubeida Mustafa

LAST week, I went to Lyari to attend the Food and Fun Festival. Organised by the Ilm-o-Hunar School, the event left a positive impression on me as the youth appeared to be enjoying themselves.

Dressed in their Sunday best, they exuded confidence. The performance was delightful but creativity had to substitute for professionalism. Did it really matter, though, if the stage props were improvised and a single microphone was passed around, from actor to actor? Or that the actors were all speaking in Urdu, which the audience fully understood?

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Whither OPP?

By Zubeida Mustafa

ORANGI Pilot Project, the internationally acclaimed development model founded by iconic social scientist Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan, is in trouble. Charges of corruption, misappropriation of funds and violations of its by-laws have been levelled against its current management. Some 36 employees, many of them trained by its founder, have been sacked. Most worrisome is the accusation that there is a deliberate attempt to obliterate Dr Sahib’s (as he was reverently called) name as founder and conceptualiser of the OPP. If true, this is no less than a moral crime amounting to the theft of intellectual property.

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Serving society

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE contradiction is intriguing. It is a story of a woman of royal lineage who passed away recently and will be remembered fondly for her services to the poor. Her work should be seen in the context of ‘social security’. That is what made ‘Rajkumari’ Kaniz Sakina Wajid Khan (1920-2021) exceptional.

It was not charity she was doling out, as social work is often considered to imply today, but a service she saw herself providing to the indigent. It additionally had the underpinnings of old-time values.

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Oh, so brazen

By Zubeida Mustafa

ON Dec 9, which is designated as International Anti-Corruption Day by the United Nations, newspapers carried a prominent Sindh government advertisement titled ‘Let’s Eradicate Corruption’. It would have convinced few but it did amuse many. The ad claimed that action was being taken against corruption.

The ad admitted that corruption was against the interest of the nation and that bribery was punishable under the law. However, it made a tall demand by stating, “If you have encountered corruption, report immediately.”

Would one want to do that? I still think of my friend Perween Rahman, the head of the OPP, who was shot dead in March 2013, and how she was facilitating the regularisation of goths on the fringe of the city. In normal times too, ordinary citizens feel unprotected. Till today, we do not know who ordered the killers to pull the trigger to eliminate this dedicated social worker.

It is seemingly a brilliant idea to ask the public to report a crime even if it is as minor as a clerk demanding a bribe to move a file. Will the file actually inch forward when the accused is taken to task? As for big crimes, only a fool would hope for state protection if he dares to report it.

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Brave women

By Zubeida Mustafa

CONVENTIONALLY women are referred to as weak and fickle. They are also dubbed as cowardly. But all these labels have been given by men in a patriarchal society. It is unfortunate that many women have internalised these qualities and thus reinforce the male perception. One has to be grateful for those fearless women — whose numbers are now growing — who continue to defy the stereotypical image to keep reminding society that women are inherently strong and resilient and are capable of meeting the most difficult of challenges they face.

Last week, we were reminded of this truth when Khairo Dero, a village in Sindh, experienced a harrowing incident. I feel a sense of belonging when it comes to Khairo Dero, and the news of the attack on Ramz Ali literally shook me. Ramz is the project manager of the Ali Hasan Mangi Memorial Trust that Naween Mangi has set up to promote the development of this small and charming goth in district Larkana.

Ramz is the gentle and kind and honest-to-the-core soul who runs the various projects of the Trust with a firm and efficient hand. Ramz is also the father of my best friend in Khairo Dero, four-year-old Sitara.

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Gift for donors

By Zubeida Mustafa

GRATITUDE. Pride. Appreciation. These three words sum up the sentiments of the patients I talked to on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Donor’s Clinic at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT).

Abida Zahid had given a gift of life to her younger sister four years ago when her sibling had end-stage renal failure. Farman Raza was another donor who gifted a kidney to his brother in 2012 when he fell critically ill.

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To trust or not

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE underlying cause of what is currently termed as ‘confusion’ in our political discourse is a deficit of trust. Simply put, it is the paranoia that has subsumed people from all walks of life, causing them to distrust others. Can you blame them when they have been deceived so often?

Take the case of the pandemic. On June 19, a very eminent infectious diseases specialist, Dr Naseem Salahuddin, wrote an excellent article in this paper explaining the pandemic, the emergence of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19 and the need for a lockdown. According to her, we have already crossed the Rubicon. She attributes the failure to win the full cooperation of the masses on SOPs to “poverty, illiteracy and dense populations” as well as “ingrained habits”. Hence she appeals for specialists to be given the opportunity to explain what the pandemic really is.

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