Category Archives: Minorities

Tragedy of the Bheels

By Zubeida Mustafa

SO tough has been the race for land traditionally that even obtaining a plot for a grave can pose insurmountable barriers. Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor of India, had said, “Do gaz zameen bhee na milee koo-i-yaar mein” (I didn’t get even a two-yard plot in my beloved’s street). That was more than a century and a half ago.

The situation is no better today but for a different reason. Then it was imperial politics. Today it is religious fanaticism combined with land hunger that denied Bhooro Bheel land for a grave in his ancestral graveyard. When obscurantism becomes the driving force behind a tragic incident one can expect rationality to take flight. Continue reading Tragedy of the Bheels

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.

Continue reading Pakistan’s social development: the Christians’ role

Remembering Sister Zinia

By Zubeida Mustafa

LAST Saturday was World Teachers’ Day. It is now universally recognised that teachers — their ability, integrity, competence and compassion — are the key determinants of the quality of education a country offers to its children.

A good teacher is an asset and to a great extent atones for the flaws in a system that produces shoddy textbooks, schools lacking decent infrastructure and missing library and laboratory facilities. Above all a teacher — who cares, inspires, and is innovative— can transform a child’s life.

So the idea of a Teachers’ Day is a brilliant one. Teachers also deserve appreciation and what better way can there be to boost their morale than recognition from their students? Continue reading Remembering Sister Zinia

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

A man of sense and sensibility



By Zubeida Mustafa

THERE appears to be more intolerance in Islam because the Muslim world is in the throes of change

Dressed in his white khaddar kurta and pyjamas, sporting a graying stubble for a beard, Mr Asghar Ali Engineer could be any of the countless Bohris that one comes across in Karachi. But behind his simple and unassuming exterior is a sturdy and sharp mind that is fully responsive to the political, social and economic problems faced by the Muslims in India. During his recent visit to Karachi, Mr. Engineer spent a whole forenoon with Dawn taking about a wide range of Issues.

He came across as an enlightened, rational and level-headed scholar whose interpretation of Islam offers hope of some sanity emerging from the bleak scenario that makes the Muslim world today. At a time when the lines between the liberal/secular and the orthodox camps have been sharply drawn, a meeting with Asghar Ali Engineer was most reassuring. He knows the ideology but speaks the language of the secularists. A well-known social scientist (that is how he described himself) from India, Mr Engineer has founded two research institutions in Bombay which he heads. One is the Institute of Islamic Studies which was set up in 1982 and the other is the more recently-established Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (1993). Continue reading A man of sense and sensibility

Pakistanis in Canada an isolated community

By Zubeida Mustafa

“A major factor which accounts for the inability of Pakistanis in Canada to adjust to their social environment is their inflexibility and intolerance of anything alien and attitude of moral superiority. Since they have been taught that they must not eat pork or drink wine, Pakistani Muslims are inclined to regard a person who does so as necessarily evil.

But it is wrong to judge people or assess their character on the basis of, their eating habits and lifestyle. This only creates a gap between the immigrants and the locals which makes life more difficult for the Pakistani settlers.” Continue reading Pakistanis in Canada an isolated community