Category Archives: Media

The media’s role

Picture courtesy: Right to Education Pakistan

By Zubeida Mustafa

LAST week the Indus Resource Centre (IRC) and the Sindh Education Foundation held a joint consultative roundtable — the second such event in a series — to study the impact of the Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2013.

The project funded by UKAID and DAI Europe seeks to mobilise schoolchildren to create a visible demand for education.

This consultative process has proved to be an instructive exercise and holds great promise, provided the IRC’s strategy remains judicious and does not succumb to ill-considered demands by the financiers. Ideally, education projects should be indigenously funded to ensure local discretion to determine strategy. But this is not always possible given resource constraints.

Initially, the IRC held a baseline survey in eight districts of Sindh. Called ‘It’s my right, make it happen’, the survey found that barely 2pc of the respondents knew about the right to education (RTE) law. Even the functionaries of the education department lacked awareness of the act passed in February 2013. Continue reading

3 Comments | Posted in Education, Media, Population |

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.
Continue reading

2 Comments | Posted in Books, Education, Media, Social Issues |



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

3 Comments | Posted in Media, Social Issues, Women |

Media in the spotlight

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE two-member media commission’s recommendation for consultations on the review of all media laws and codes could not have been more timely. The fact is that lately a lot of concern has been expressed vocally by discerning observers about the damage the media is inflicting on our society.

Any forum, which is even distantly related to the press or television, invariably turns into an occasion to condemn their waywardness. TV receives a greater share of the flak because of its higher visibility/reach and potential to influence people’s mindsets.

The issue of ethics in journalism has been around for quite some time but has evaded all solution. Those of the older generation who have struggled for press freedom for years are naturally reluctant to hand over powers to the government to regulate the freedom of expression which a code can accomplish.
Continue reading

6 Comments | Posted in Human Rights, Information, Media |

Lessons of May 11


By Zubeida Mustafa

ELECTION 2013 has proved to be an enigma. We are a people in a hurry and immediately after the polling took place on May 11 we had started jumping to conclusions.

The facts had still not been ascertained fully, and without facts (and figures in the case of polling which is essentially a numbers game) how can one form informed opinions? What we have is a babble of judgements pronounced in line with the political leanings of various observers and on the basis of reports — not all of them authentic — circulating on the internet and in the media.

A lot did happen on polling day but one has to look at the bigger picture as well as the context. Of course there were malpractices in some constituencies amounting to rigging. They could not be ignored — the vociferous protests were too loud to ignore. Continue reading

5 Comments | Posted in Media, Politics, Social Issues |

Ageless Beauty: Zubeida Mustafa


By Courtenay Cooper Hall

Zubeida Mustafa: 72, First Female Pakistani Newspaper Editor

Zubeida Mustafa is a freelance journalist who writes a weekly column for Dawn, where she was assistant editor from 1975 to 2008. Dawn is Pakistan’s most widely circulated and influential English language newspaper, founded in 1947. Mustafa writes on a variety of subjects but her interest has mainly been in the social sector, which she has covered extensively. She has investigated in-depth issues, such as education, health care, women’s empowerment, children’s rights and the lives of ordinary people. She launched and edited Dawn’s “Health Page,” “Book Page,” “Education Page,” “CareerWise,” “Encounter,” “Karachi Notebook” and most notably “Books & Authors,” the first book magazine by any newspaper in Pakistan. Continue reading

2 Comments | Posted in Media |

The identity question


By Zubeida Mustafa

AT a time when secular-thinking liberal Pakistanis are under attack from the Taliban, reading Azadi’s Daughter by Seema Mustafa (no relative) proved to be a thought-provoking exercise for me.

Sub-titled Journey of a Liberal Muslim — that is how the author describes herself — the book resonated with me powerfully although India and Pakistan are believed to be worlds apart politically, socially and culturally.

But are they? Fahmida Riaz created quite an uproar in New Delhi when she categorically pronounced a few years ago, “Tum bilkul hum jaisey nikley/ Ab tak kahan chupay thay bhai”. (You turned out to be just like us/ Where were you all along, brother?) Continue reading

4 Comments | Posted in Media, Notable Personalities, Politics, Women |

Remembering Baldia victims

By Zubeida Mustafa

LAST week the 13th Akhtar Hameed Khan Development Forum came as a timely reminder of the injustice befalling the workers in a country where it is a crime to be poor. The forum focused on the Baldia fire tragedy, which has almost faded from public memory.

Now an annual Karachi landmark, the forum commemorates the philosophy and work of that iconic development theorist-cum-activist, whose insight into human nature and society was profound. Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan’s message of self-reliance and a participatory approach to development is most relevant today and has been kept alive by the Orangi Pilot Project, Research and Training Institute (OPP-RTI) under the able stewardship of its director Parveen Rahman. Continue reading

4 Comments | Posted in Development and Poverty, Human Rights, Labour, Media, Social Issues |

2013—the year of the snake

By Zubeida Mustafa

Here we enter a new year and I wish all my readers a 2013 that is peaceful, happy, healthy and prosperous. I am a bit late but I know my friends will forgive me for being forgetful. Here are greetings for Christmas. I cherish the message of love and amity this occasion always brings for mankind.

How should one greet the new year? Hope? It may bring new tidings and prove to be a turning point in one’s life. Fear? All the dreadful events taking place in our lives can be scary. A step further, many look forward to predictions – especially of the soothsayers’ variety. But I  am not an avid champion  of horoscopes. They mean nothing riddled as they are with ifs and buts that nullify what is stated. Read this prediction, for example.

“The Chinese horoscope shows us that this 2013 year of the black Snake is going to be an exciting year for many. There will of course be both ups and downs, and for some the ups will be quite high and the downs will be quite low. For everyone, there will be good and bad and highlights and lowlights.” Continue reading

2 Comments | Posted in Books, Media, Social Issues |

Another stalwart bows out

By Zubeida Mustafa

IT is never easy to write obituaries. The challenge increases when the person you are writing about is one you have had a long association with. This chapter in my life with Dawn closed today when M.A. Majid, who was a teacher, mentor and a friend of over three decades, said goodbye. We who worked with him were left with old memories of days by-gone. Another stalwart has departed – that is the thought that struck me immediately when I heard the news.

For over three decades we not only worked under the same roof. We also broke bread together. There were a few of us – Majid Sahib, Fazal Imam Sahib, Ghayurul Islam Sahib, Akhter Payami Sahib, M.H. Askari Sahib and I – who shared our meals and jokes to fuel our energies and our spirits for the remaining hours of the day which were more tiring and demanding. That is how newspapers function – the pace of work picks up as the day wears out. Continue reading

2 Comments | Posted in Media |