Manifestos and women

By Zubeida Mustafa

WOMEN once again dominate the election scene not by virtue of their presence being a determining factor in the outcome of the coming contest. It is the “women’s issue” that will certainly figure more prominently in the forefront than ever before. That will take the women’s movement in Pakistan a step further.

Take the female candidates who have filed nomination papers for the general seats and are creating quite a ripple in the media. Women activists are supporting them quite vociferously. After the polls their sisters from various parties will join them on the reserved seats in the assemblies and enhance the female strength.

More than their numerical presence in parliament, the women who have entered the fray are making their point in other ways too. Continue reading “Manifestos and women”

Should we be complacent?

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE report prepared by Zeenat Hisam and Yasmin Qureshi on Religious minorities in Pakistan for the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) and launched last Tuesday at the South Asian conference on the subject does not really come as a revelation.

Pakistan has earned notoriety for its ill-treatment of non-Muslim communities — who are the so-called religious minorities in the country. The report is, however, timely, as also the conference was, on two counts. Continue reading “Should we be complacent?”

2008-2013 Democratic Annals

by Rifaat Hamid Ghani

The government and the Parliament of 2008 completed a full term: a democratic first. But it could be more because interventionists have matured than because politicians demonstrated a reassuring capacity to learn on the job.

If we step outside the trite paradigm of democracy and dictatorship and the polarities of the civil and military public political interest, we might not see any polarities: Both want power and there is a competition for it. For most Pakistanis Pakistan is home, not a cow to be milked dry. They need and want their country. The touchstone for legitimacy then becomes pragmatic for them: How is the power of government being used?

guest-contributorIf asked about the 2008-onwards use of democratically mandated power there would be more than carping complaints about law and order and safety in daily life. The common perception is the state itself is increasingly endangered by the vice and folly of the politically empowered. In 2013 despite democratic freedom a question is suppressed: Is it a myth, which local democratic experience exposes each time, that democracy is invariably the better formula? As soon as there was no self-perpetuating incentive in maintaining or reaching a consensus, political rivals needed arbitration on the caretaker PM. When mainstream parties so evidently mistrust each other’s motives and nominees they also need unusually skilled spin masters to tell the electorate why it may place faith in their candidatures and avowals. Continue reading “2008-2013 Democratic Annals”

Tax reform, not aid please

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE BBC has reported that a group of British MPs have asked the British “government to withhold extra aid to Pakistan unless the country does more to gather taxes from its wealthier citizens”.

This will evoke a strong reaction in many circles in Pakistan. It is shocking that we have shameless people here — many having been associated with policymaking — who treat foreign aid as a yardstick to measure the success or otherwise of Islamabad’s foreign policy.

They have no qualms about going with the begging bowl in hand to foreign capitals. They will be irked by the British MPs’ statement no doubt. Some will see it as an anti-poor stance. Continue reading “Tax reform, not aid please”

Vote banks of the starving

By Zubeida Mustafa

ELECTIONS are round the corner and as the candidates head for the hustings it is time they focused on the issues which will make or break the country.

The least talked-about problem and yet the one which poses a grave threat to our existence is population explosion. Pakistan, the sixth most populous country in the world, is on its way to becoming the fifth most populous state.

Demographers say if we continue to neglect the family planning sector we will have 342 million mouths to feed in 2050. Continue reading “Vote banks of the starving”