By Zubeida Mustafa
LAST week was World Humanitarian Day. It came as a simple reminder that the world is not a welcoming place any longer for a large number of people in countries beset with crises. Conditions have deteriorated to such an extent globally that the need for humanitarian help has been growing. Yet, at the same time, brutality against aid workers is also on the rise making them more vulnerable. In 2013 alone, 155 aid workers were killed and 134 kidnapped.
Why this need for humanitarian aid? The fact is that frequent emergencies are being created due to ever-increasing conflict and also natural disasters — many of them manmade — such as floods and droughts. Pakistan has experienced these in abundance in recent times. We seem to be living from crisis to crisis. Such an abnormal pattern of existence pre-empts economic and social development and growth while whatever progress had been achieved in the preceding period has been undone. Continue reading
By Zubeida Mustafa
It was quite an extraordinary way of celebrating the 67th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence last week. Believing that they could usher in freedom/revolution by bringing their supporters out on the street, Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri succeeded only in creating polarisation and instability in a crisis-ridden country.
The two marches organised by these leaders have evoked strong reactions from political observers. A large segment of pro-democracy opinion views this show of force as an extra-parliamentary move by the opposition that could derail the democratic process and open the door for military intervention. There have also been allegations of collusion between the agitators and elements in the military. Others have defended the people’s right to protest against government excesses. The speculation of regime change has been intertwined with an ongoing discourse on the military-civilian role in politics. Continue reading
By Zubeida A.Dossal
This article is my loving and fond tribute to Anita — Anita whom I was honoured and privileged to have as a friend for more than fifty years. She was indeed a friend in every sense of the word — loving, appreciative, caring and ever so helpful. Her many gifts of head and heart have helped many a person and friend. She made happy things happier and sad ones a little less so by her sympathy and her sharing and care, which she did so gracefully.
What I enjoyed was her joie de vivre, which she passed on to those around her. Here I recall my first meeting with my friend. Very vivid till today (50+ years later) is my meeting or rather my first view of Anita Ghulamali.
I was then the headmistress of the SMB Fatema Jinnah School and had been asked by Mrs Zaibunissa Hamidullah the editor and owner of the Mirror, to interview Anita Ghulamali. I did not know her, but rang her up to request an interview. I told her I was new to Karachi and did not know the roads very well and might be a little early or late. Continue reading
By Rifaat Hamid Ghani
There have been many who have played a destructive role in Pakistan’s politics but Imran Khan may well come to head the list.
He has never had the kind of stately intellectuality or revolutionising party political standing another eventual political disaster did so one does not want to honour him by comparison with the giant; but if Bhutto’s political use of the Punjab-dominated western wing of Pakistan culminated in the loss of east Pakistan, Imran’s focus on the Punjab mass might take care of the remains.
Bhutto had the capacity to revitalise a truncated defeated nation: Would anyone wager that Imran has the capacity – or even the will – to collect the pieces of the Pakistan he is pushing towards implosion? For that could well be the way the curtain falls on his political dramatics if he persists in routing democratic leadership the Azadi March way. It is a pity as well as a national humiliation that so shallow a political entity has to be taken so seriously in terms of the damage he can inflict. And it saddens that Imran Khan, an individual who has used his privileged position to significantly positive social effect establishing ShaukatKhanum Hospital; and his cricketing gifts to delight and animate nationally should be cutting the kind of political figure he now does in his August antics. Continue reading
By Zubeida Mustafa
Do icons really pass away? They can’t, because being iconic makes them immortal in the public collective consciousness. And it is an icon that Anita Ghulamali had become. What made her so outstanding was her will to take on the most powerful enemies of education in Pakistan.
Her constituency comprised the common people. Her battles were fought for them and the only battle she lost was with death on Aug 8. The outpouring of admiration and affection for her that has followed testifies to her sincerity.
She is being eulogised most for her contribution to education and rightly so. But the difference she made to this key social sector has yet to make an impact. I am confident her ideas will prevail, though it may take time. In education the decay begins insidiously and reform is a long-drawn process that spans generations. Continue reading
By Zubeida Mustafa
From Dawn Archives Library 9 & 16 Oct 1987
Education in Pakistan is in a state of crisis. Not only has the government failed to fulfil this basic need of the citizens by establishing educational institutions in sufficient numbers, the quality of the education available is also deplorably poor. Given the weaknesses in the education system, it is not surprising that only 26 per cent of Pakistanis are literate (taking a technical definition of literacy), only 50 per cent of the primary school-age children are enrolled in schools and 50 per cent of them drop out before they complete five years of schooling.
The statistics for women are even more depressing. Only sixteen per cent of them are literate — seven per cent in the rural areas — 32 per cent girls in the 5-9 years age group are enrolled in school and eight per cent attend higher secondary school. Continue reading
Professor Anita Ghulam Ali talks about the latest object of her passion
By Zubeida Mustafa
From Dawn Archives Library 28 June 1998
Pakistan is a country which has been ignominiously sliding down the Human Development Index of the UNDP — from 94th in 1990 to 139th in 1997. Today only 13 countries out of the 175 listed have a lower score than Pakistan’s in the education index, which is calculated on the basis of adult literacy rate and gross enrolment ratio in schools. In this dismal scenario when things seem to be falling apart one can get cynical about optimists like Professor Anita Ghulam Ali, the Managing Director of the Sindh Education Foundation.
She says that she feels hopeful that the situation will improve. When you visit her spick and span office in Clifton with its neatly laid out garden patch and are reminded twice by its dynamic MD that this too is a government office, you are forced to concede that the official machinery can work if the will is present. As she proudly shows you round, you note that the environment is too pleasant for it to be the usual kind of government institution one is accustomed to — you make a mental comparison with the decrepit passport office, which you had visited a few weeks ago and which earns a handsome revenue for the exchequer. The SEF’s library, computers, notice-boards with colourful pictures pinned on them, spotless floors free of paan stains makes it more like the office of a private sector organization. Continue reading
Professor Anita Ghulam Ali
By Baela Raza Jamil
The Apprentice of Anita Ghulam Ali
So I missed her last rites which I should have performed preparing Anita Apa for the next life –I wanted that last breeze to blow on my face blessing me with her provocation and sensitivity as she had done for millions in her life. That was not to be. Yes she was a true blue blood citizen of this country – the few who can claim blue blood in citizenship – she was one of the toppers. Her values were self- crafted and self- imposed; she stood against all opposition to create and follow them and no one could convince her otherwise. Yes she walked the talk; yes she embraced innovation and humanity and her mind kept buzzing with ideas until the very end – her brains never gave up even for a second.
My memories of her are since 1974 when I visited her at the Sindh Muslim College where she was energizing her students and the institution in the midst of some controversy and then some years later at her apartment trying to understand her role as the President of the Pakistan College Teachers’ Association for my research. At that point I had decided that if ever I wanted to serve an apprenticeship it would be with her. Continue reading
By Sadaf Zuberi
“I shall not look upon her like again” (abstracted from Hamlet Act 1 sc. 2)
We all thought she was immortal. Some people you imagine will live for ever. But then some do. They continue to live. In your heart. In thoughts. In our actions.
Each of us whose lives she touched carry some shade of Professor Anita Ghulam Ali in them. Her institution of a personality and an unwavering drive to be the change. An icon of integrity, commitment and perseverance. Fighter. Activist. Educationist. Teacher. Mentor. Confidant. Friend. Guru. And Guide.
But we knew her more.
As a voracious reader. Connoisseur of Arts. A naturalist at heart. Generous to a fault and hospitable to the core. Her extraordinary rapport with all and the impeccable ability to make each one feel special. Continue reading
By Zubeida Mustafa
Ten years ago when I decided to downshift and move into an apartment from an independent house, I was warned by a friend that I should think twice about the change. She said every apartment dweller she knew was constantly complaining of the difficulties caused by the non-cooperation of residents.
I didn’t heed her advice as I thought Karachi living had its problems, whether one’s abode was a mansion, a townhouse, or a flat in a complex. One had to figure out how to cope.
In retrospect, I feel apartment-living was the microcosm of life in Pakistan — and full of pitfalls. When I moved in, I was in a state of bliss. Having experienced two armed robberies in my home — when living in an independent house — I felt secure after a long time. The flat was bright and airy and had a view of the sea. Continue reading