Pakistan’s struggles with democracy

Nearly nine years after I joined Dawn in 1975, Pakistan’s most respected and widely circulated English language newspaper, a young woman came to this newspaper’s office looking for a job. She had studied in the US and had worked for a paper there. She had also written for Dawn and I was quite familiar with her writings. Since Dawn had started opening its doors to women and Nafisa Hoodbhoy (that was the name of the young journalist), had proved her mettle in journalism she was taken without much fuss.

Initially Hoodbhoy was given a beat on writing about women and women’s issues. Since those were the years when the Women’s Action Forum was also taking off, the new female addition to Dawn’s male dominated world proved to be an asset. Hoodbhoy was keen about reporting and didn’t want a desk job where the few women who came to Dawn in those days were usually sent. They themselves preferred that. She was so determined about what she wanted to do, that Ahmad Ali Khan Sahib, the editor, gave her what she asked for. One of her beats was women’s and health issues and she was never short of assignments.

That was just the beginning. But political reporting was Hoodbhoy’s goal in journalism. As she writes in her recently published book Aboard the Democracy Train, she got the much needed break when General Ziaul Haq’s plane exploded in mid-air in August 1988, ushering in an era of democracy to Pakistan. Her book focuses mainly on politics in Pakistan and her own experience which proved to be rich and diverse. As she was covering Benazir Bhutto, the first woman prime minister in the Muslim world, Hoodbhoy has many interesting stories to tell.

The book is being introduced to the readers in the US on 21 Feb as the invitation below shows. Read more about the book on

Nafisa Hoodbhoy will present her book, `Aboard the Democracy Train: a Journey through Pakistan’s Last Decade of Democracy’ on Feb 21 at 7 pm at McNally Jackson book store in New York city. She will be joined by Political Science professor at Georgia State University, Prof. Henry F. Carey, who accompanied her during the 1990 elections held in Nawabshah and Narowal and the subsequent by-election in Jacobabad. The event will be moderated by Karen Frillmann, Managing Editor – Newsroom, New York Public Radio, who helped to shape her book for Western audiences.

2 thoughts on “Pakistan’s struggles with democracy

  1. Its really good to hear that Senior Journalist Nafisa Hodhboy writen a book. Her that initiative will also encourage jounior journalist like us to write our political hostory and experiences in the shape of a book in future.

  2. This Post consists of two parts a) about successful story of Ms Nafisa and b) Political Scenario of Pakistan. Some may term it as an advertisement for the book scripted by Ms Nafisa.

    Truly speaking I have never heard about Ms Nafisa and nor have any in-depth knowledge about politics of Pakistan so my conscious do not allow to post any comments. But on second perusal I found that strong reason is there to post comments as under:

    a)Ms Nafisa: As narrated she was the first woman journalist to join DAWN. It gives some sense that how determined she was. First she came out of home rather than to remain under ‘burqa or naqab etc.’ Then to excel when too many male working around her is another example of WILL POWER. She not succeeded in her profession but encourage woman brigade to STAND UP equal to male. Really a great achievement. Now-a-days like wise family is not a complete family without housewife and girl child similarly no profession is a complete profession without women professionals.

    b)DEMOCRACY: Many countries (Pak and India included) are not having real democracy as in some selected countries like Switzerland, Japan, USA, UK etc. etc. ‘Politics Science’ meant for Politician has become ‘Money and Power Science’. Moral values have taken off. Public money is being distributed in a “BANDAR BANT’ way.

    Around 1975 I read in newspaper that Japanese Prime Minister was fined as he blew car horn without sufficient reason. And recently Japanese Prime Minister resigned as he was charged for not handling the situation after last Tsunami. No reader can name present or ex-Prime Minister or President of Switzerland because on every matter referendum is taken so politicians are not well known figures. Lal Bahadur Shastri ex-PM of India resigned as Railway Minister taking moral responsibility of a railway accident. Again he ordered to remove cooler fitted especially in his cabin (while travelling by railway in hot summer) when he noticed that outside is too hot but his body is feeling cold wave. Such type of Politicians does not exist in too many countries.

    Common man is helpless but knows all sins of rulers. There is no law to RECALL them back from Parliament. Politicians are most Corrupted but still we expect they will check corruption. The following words of a Hindi song will clear my point:

    “Humko unse hai wafa ki ummed jo nahin jante wafa kaya hai”
    Dil-e-nadan tujhe hua kya hai akhir is dard ki dava kya hai?”

    Still I would shout:

    a)Democracy of Pakistan is Pak and
    b) Ninety out of one hundred are corrupt still Mera Bharat Mahan

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