Yearly Archives: 2012

Librarians as teachers

By Zubeida Mustafa

AT the Children’s Literature Festival in Quetta last month, the provincial education secretary had promised to make provisions for a library in every government school in Balochistan.

If this actually materialises, the province will certainly have something to boast about. A school without a library is like a body without a soul. Can you expect students to love reading if they are not immersed in a world of books that a library creates? Continue reading Librarians as teachers

Malala and GMR 2012

By Zubeida Mustafa

EXACTLY a week before Unesco launched its 10th Global Monitoring Report 2012 (GMR) on Oct 16, Malala Yousufzai, Pakistan’s child campaigner for the right of education for girls, was shot in the head by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. Pauline Rose, editor of the Monitoring Report, termed the attack a “tragedy” in a country where there are still over three million girls out of school.

The attack on Malala and her two companions shocked Pakistan. This shock also galvanised the nation as thousands rose with one voice to condemn the Taliban. Continue reading Malala and GMR 2012

No ray of hope

By Zubeida Mustafa

IN a society where mental illness carries a stigma and is shrouded in superstitious beliefs, the Pakistan Association for Mental Health (PAMH) has done a creditable job of spreading some public awareness about disorders of the mind.

However, that is not enough. Even if a person’s problem is diagnosed, then what? Treatment is expensive. Psychiatrists are few in number in proportion to the sufferers.
There is little government support for this branch of healthcare as is evident from the Sindh government’s indifference towards its responsibility of drawing up the Mental Health Act to replace the Ordinance of 2001 and frame rules to implement it. Continue reading No ray of hope

Six ways to ward off morbid thoughts

By Zubeida Mustafa

Here are some tips which have helped me ward off the blues – at least in times like these when the going is tough.

  1. Resort to the “Kitchen Table Wisdom” strategy. Actually this should be a part of people’s life on a continuing basis and not just when they are upset. In a nutshell, it requires family and friends to share their stories – mainly their experiences of the day on a daily basis. Continue reading Six ways to ward off morbid thoughts

Violence in the home

By Zubeida Mustafa

A BANKER in New York aims a vase at his wife. She ducks and is not hit. She calls the police. The husband is arrested and spends five years in prison after a court trial.

A police officer in Karachi beats up his wife at the slightest provocation. She is badly bruised but has no way of seeking relief. This is a story heard in every third household in Pakistan.

According to the Aurat Foundation’s annual report, 610 women were victims of domestic violence in the country in 2011 — a 50 per cent rise over the previous year. AF, however, feels that this is the most under-reported of all crimes against women and only the most shocking cases come to light. Continue reading Violence in the home

Whose child is this?

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE State of Pakistan’s Children 2011 report prepared and launched by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child puts the spotlight on us as caregivers of children.

But do we care or hold ourselves collectively responsible? Sparc’s report very appropriately quotes the iconic South African leader Nelson Mandela who said: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

A glance at the report establishes beyond doubt that we have blackened our souls. How else will you treat the following information provided by the report: 25 million children out of school; 10 million child workers slogging it out in factories and workplaces to support their families; 300,000 street children with no homes to return to at night; 68 per cent of children in Pakistan found to be stunted in 2011 with the number growing every year. Continue reading Whose child is this?

Books in times of war

By Zubeida Mustafa

A CHILDREN’S Literature Festival in Quetta sounds like a contradiction in terms. Quetta is in Balochistan and one doesn’t have to be reminded that the province is in the grip of a violent insurgency.

When I went there last week I could feel the tension in the air. Fear was palpable. So how could a festival — that too for children — be held in a place not considered very safe?

For me the festival amounted to making a political statement: children need peace. We knew that whatever the state of security, life has to go on. Yet one could not turn a blind eye to the tight security which in turn made one feel insecure. The event was not advertised and was reported in the media only after the show was over. Continue reading Books in times of war

1971 as seen by a planter’s wife

Reviewed by Naeem Sadiq

Sips from a Broken Teacup
By Raihana A Hasan
Ushba Publishing International, Pakistan
ISBN 978-969-9154-18-8
2011. 429pp.

The rattling narrow-gauge Surma train that carried a young urban bride to a far away and unknown world of tea plantations stopped at the deserted Shamshernagar Railway Station on a dark wintry night of January 1962. Little did the disembarking passenger know that her prolific and perceptive mind was already capturing the first outlines of what was to appear in the form of a book some fifty years later.

Raihana Hasan, the author

Raihana Hasan could not have chosen a more thoughtful, apt and immaculate title for her captivating book, Sips from a Broken Teacup. Each word depicting delicately woven themes that stretch from reminiscence of life as a tea planter’s wife to the traumatic events that preceded the break-up of Pakistan and finally the drama and the ordeal as the author and her family escape from then East to West Pakistan.

Sips from a Broken Teacup shows tell-tale signs of a meticulous and devoted diary writer who has Continue reading 1971 as seen by a planter’s wife

Cheryl, the peace envoy

By Zubeida Mustafa

BEFORE India’s external affairs minister arrived in Islamabad on Friday, there was talk of the low expectation of progress in bilateral relations between Pakistan and India.

We were warned against expecting anything ‘spectacular’ coming out of the visit. Do we need spectacular developments in everything we do? Mercifully a peacenik, ex-ambassador Aziz Ahmad Khan, was realistically positive when he pointed out that the ‘good atmospherics’ that exist today can strengthen the India-Pakistan peace process. Continue reading Cheryl, the peace envoy