Language in learning

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE Children’s Literature Festival is the best thing that could have happened to the children of Pakistan. Six festivals have already been organised since November 2011 — the latest having been held in Islamabad last week.

It was a pleasure to see thousands of children assemble at the Pak-China Friendship Centre in Islamabad surrounded by gaiety, music and storytelling and, above all, books of all genres for young readers. The atmosphere was one of merrymaking. But the underlying mission was a very serious one. The objective of the organisers was captured in the words splashed all over the backdrops in the auditorium and the conference rooms —“Unlocking the power of reading”.

That is what the literary festival has undertaken to accomplish. It is too early to expect a visible change in the reading habits of children. If the tradition continues and the event reaches a large number of people in due course, it is hoped that it will make an impact. Continue reading “Language in learning”

Lessons of May 11

By Zubeida Mustafa

ELECTION 2013 has proved to be an enigma. We are a people in a hurry and immediately after the polling took place on May 11 we had started jumping to conclusions.

The facts had still not been ascertained fully, and without facts (and figures in the case of polling which is essentially a numbers game) how can one form informed opinions? What we have is a babble of judgements pronounced in line with the political leanings of various observers and on the basis of reports — not all of them authentic — circulating on the internet and in the media.

A lot did happen on polling day but one has to look at the bigger picture as well as the context. Of course there were malpractices in some constituencies amounting to rigging. They could not be ignored — the vociferous protests were too loud to ignore. Continue reading “Lessons of May 11”

Ageless Beauty: Zubeida Mustafa

By Courtenay Cooper Hall

Zubeida Mustafa: 72, First Female Pakistani Newspaper Editor

Zubeida Mustafa is a freelance journalist who writes a weekly column for Dawn, where she was assistant editor from 1975 to 2008. Dawn is Pakistan’s most widely circulated and influential English language newspaper, founded in 1947. Mustafa writes on a variety of subjects but her interest has mainly been in the social sector, which she has covered extensively. She has investigated in-depth issues, such as education, health care, women’s empowerment, children’s rights and the lives of ordinary people. She launched and edited Dawn’s “Health Page,” “Book Page,” “Education Page,” “CareerWise,” “Encounter,” “Karachi Notebook” and most notably “Books & Authors,” the first book magazine by any newspaper in Pakistan. Continue reading “Ageless Beauty: Zubeida Mustafa”

Invisibility of mothers

By Zubeida Mustafa

AS a new government enters the corridors of power in Sindh it will find itself empowered with an innovative and sensible document that lays down the gender guidelines for official policies in the province. It was a smart move on the part of the Sindh Women Development Department to launch its Provincial Policy for Women Empowerment two days before the elections.

The event was timely because such moves pertaining to women’s rights require a lot of support and backing from official quarters in Pakistan. This support was fully available. It could not have been otherwise considering that the women and human rights’ portfolio in the interim government was held by an inveterate champion of woman’s rights, Anis Haroon, whose role in the women’s movement has been phenomenal. Continue reading “Invisibility of mothers”

My Friend Perveen

By Fozia Qureshi

An extraordinarily talented and dedicated human, Perveen was a friend and a colleague who was unfailingly cheerful, helpful and supportive. I first met her in 1983 when I started working at the AKU and had the amazing good luck to interact with Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan of the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) while developing the Primary Health Care field programs for the Department of Community Health Sciences. Continue reading “My Friend Perveen”

The identity question

By Zubeida Mustafa

AT a time when secular-thinking liberal Pakistanis are under attack from the Taliban, reading Azadi’s Daughter by Seema Mustafa (no relative) proved to be a thought-provoking exercise for me.

Sub-titled Journey of a Liberal Muslim — that is how the author describes herself — the book resonated with me powerfully although India and Pakistan are believed to be worlds apart politically, socially and culturally.

But are they? Fahmida Riaz created quite an uproar in New Delhi when she categorically pronounced a few years ago, “Tum bilkul hum jaisey nikley/ Ab tak kahan chupay thay bhai”. (You turned out to be just like us/ Where were you all along, brother?) Continue reading “The identity question”

Manifestos and population

By Zubeida Mustafa

IN the ongoing violence-stricken election campaign there is a lot of talk about the economy and how that needs to be fixed to improve people’s lives. The political parties in the fray have apparently come to realise that public discontent focuses on the rising level of unemployment, spiralling inflation and growing poverty.

Hence the candidates have responded to popular concerns by making promises that offer the people a heaven on earth. The party manifestos are full of populist rhetoric meant to appease the voters. Those who understand the flaws in the official system and know that structural changes are needed to rectify the wrongs can see through the hollow pledges being made and the inadequacy of the approach adopted. It is therefore not strange that all parties shy away from specifics, and strategies in various sectors are not even defined. Continue reading “Manifestos and population”