Street power

pervaiz-khatak-dance-in-dharna-pti-islamabadBy Rifaat Hamid Ghani

guest-contributorIn a subcontinent where street power has been instrumental in ridding its peoples of British Raj and where ignoring it has also been implosive—as in the presently heavily occupied Kashmir and the no longer existent East Pakistan—it is an achievement of sorts that our politicians have been able to trivialize it: mass demos, dharnas, rallies, jalsas, have become stale as well as tiresome.

But it would be perilously delusional to assume that the consequences of the sustained abuse of street power can be counted on as also being trivial and dull.

Pakistan’s politicians conceive of street power as a tool of political one-upmanship: who had the larger turnout where. The public why and because are secondary rather than motivational, and the objective is to wrest power from the incumbents and gain it for the leaders’ party machine. (There is much verbiage but little evidence or precedent that power thus gained will be exercised in the public interest first and foremost.) The PTI’s use of its glitzy street power has been frankly disruptive but it has yet to gain the critical mass to get Nawaz to ‘go’ as bid. Other political parties align with the lionized Imran Khan and his PTI off and on in unedifying bargaining to gain traction for—first things first—Nawaz to go. The spirit is we’ll join hands but reserve the right to turn on each other later. Continue reading “Street power”

Aspiring to teach?

Teacher helping students in classroom
Teacher helping students in classroom

By Zubeida Mustafa

SINDH is a land of paradox. For several years, the provincial government has been spending massive amounts on education, or so it claims, but has failed to make any impact on the learning outcome of students. Quite a large number of children — 59 pc according to the Pakistan Social And Living Standards Measurement Survey 2014-15 — remain out of school.

I call this a paradox because when it comes to making verbal commitments, Sindh cannot be faulted. Thus apart from the huge financial allocations the province has been announcing for this sector, it was the first to adopt a right to education law to endorse Article 25-A of the Constitution. This recognises the right of every child between five and 16 years of age to free and compulsory education. Continue reading “Aspiring to teach?”

Enough is enough

gun-logo

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE turnout at the walk organised last Sunday by Citizens against Weapons (CAW) was heartening. Started in 2014 by some concerned citizens, the campaign is catching on. I had joined them at a rally on an intersection of a busy area in Karachi two years ago. There were then barely 50 protesters. On Sunday, there were 400 or so.

One of them, activist Naeem Sadiq, whose motto is ‘say no to guns’, has been working on this goal for a decade. He and his colleagues want to rid the whole country of guns and the message is gaining adherents as a larger number of people — that does not include our rulers — begin to understand the significance of deweaponisation in ending violence. Continue reading “Enough is enough”

Education: demand & supply

school

By Rifaat Hamid Ghani

guest-contributorWE much discuss what education should be giving/bringing society; but seldom dwell on what society is feeding into education.

Far too many dedicated and obviously competent, if not gifted—for teaching is indeed a vocation—feel a decline in the calibre of their students and an alteration in the expectations and orientation of parents. The nature of personal commitment to education has changed. It is perceived as a commodity— there is less love of learning than love of the fruits thereof. Continue reading “Education: demand & supply”

Consulting a doctor

Dr  Zeba Hisam (MBBS FCPS)

zubeida-3-001-1I am always amazed at people who do not have a family physician from whom they can seek medical advice, when they are ill No matter what is the nature of their health problem, there is no family physician to decide if there is any need for a referral to a specialist. Even patients who are educated and are from the privileged class  declare proudly that they do not need a doctor as they have not suffered from any disease.  In this scenario, if any emergency arises, they panic and seek an immediate appointment from the most renowned and famous specialist they can think of.

My observation is that the more affluent and educated a person is, the more awkward he feels in seeking medical advice. He decides himself which specialist he should consult. His choice sometimes proves to be wrong.

Continue reading “Consulting a doctor”

The politics of public policy

javedBy Zubeida Mustafa

Is Pakistan a failed state?

This question has been debated ad nauseam with no definitive conclusion being reached. It has been conceded, though, that there is something wrong with the process by which public policy is formulated. Self-serving rulers – both civilian and military – have projected their style of governance as being democratic, whereas in reality, both have ruled with a heavy hand.

Take the case of education. It would seem strange that after the experience of formulating 10 education policies dating back to the very inception of the country in 1947 – none of which were fully implemented – the present government has failed to announce the eleventh policy which was due in January 2016. Continue reading “The politics of public policy”

Walls of peace

The walls of Rustom Baugh have images of Karachi's famous spots
The walls of Rustom Baugh have images of Karachi’s famous spots

By Zubeida Mustafa

IT is said that art heals and colours are therapeutic. As if proof were needed, one has to only see the transformational effect of a beautiful picture on a distressed child.

In this context it was a brilliant idea to paint Karachi’s graffiti-marred walls with pretty pictures. I am not an art critic but have enough sense to prefer a picture of beautiful animals to slogans declaring adherents of different faiths/sects ‘wajibul qatl’ (liable to be executed). More harmless but equally uncouth are the ads of obscure dawakhanas promising to restore to men their manliness. Continue reading “Walls of peace”

Why English?

By Zubeida Mustafa

A 9781783095841YOUNG mother recounted to me her harrowing experience of her daughter’s schooling in Lahore. The child was asked by her teacher to report on her classmates who spoke a language other than English in school.

When I heard this I was saddened but not shocked. Many parents have had a similar experience. Worse still, many believe that this is the only way to learn English. Continue reading “Why English?”

Eyes on diabetes

 

banting-top2_World Diabetes Day, 14 November, is a day to create awareness on diabetes, a metabolic disorder with a fast rising incidence. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and World Health Organization launched the WDD in 1991. This date   was selected to pay homage to the co-discoverer of Insulin, Dr Frederick Banting whose birthday fell on that day. Every year a new theme is selected for the WDD. Most countries of the world observe the day by organizing programmes participated by the general public, health care providers and policy makers. It is a day to raise awareness among all, old and young to fight against the disorder.

zubeida-3-001-1By Dr Fatema Jawad

Mr X’s eyes have been giving him trouble of late. He goes to the doctor. After an examination and some laboratory tests he is informed that he has diabetes. The news comes as a shock to him.

But not to his doctor. It is now known that diabetes is a fast growing metabolic disorder. There are 415 million adults with diabetes worldwide. Simply put,  10.7 percent of the global adult population is living with it. IDF has estimated that by the year 2040 this figure will rise to 642 million or 11.2 percent.. This means one in ten adults has diabetes. About 80 percent of the people with diabetes live in the middle and low income countries and a majority are between 40 and 59 years of age, the most productive years of life. (International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas, 2015) Continue reading “Eyes on diabetes”

Remember remember ? November

Imran (L) and Nawaz
Imran (L) and Nawaz

By Rifaat Hamid Ghani

guest-contributor Pakistan’s democracy is an evolutionary process in which representative legislation derived from the popular electoral mandate moves in the direction of better governance. The electorate and the elected learn politically and self-correct. The mandates conferred in 2008 and 2013 may be viewed in that light: Government at the federal centre changed hands each time, and provincial mandates mutated. Tahirul Qadri’s PAT established an irrelevance within the electoral process; while Imran Khan’s PTI registered a significant though scattered national rise, and formed the government in KP. Given the PPP’s decline, Imran’s party emerged as a vibrant third force in the national parliamentary configuration. But the overall electoral outcome left Punjab in the grip of the PML(N) – where Imran tirelessly alleges massive rigging – and denied the PTI a high profile in urban Sindh.

Setting aside what the party may or may not have established about its ability to govern by the standards it demands in others; what example has its oppositional mode offered in terms of federal politics – which — as Pakistan is a federal republic – has acute relevance for each one of its citizens. Continue reading “Remember remember ? November”