Forced to kill

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE State of Pakistan’s Children 2012 quotes from the UN Secretary General’s Report on Children in Armed Conflicts: “In 2011 there were 11 incidents of children being used in suicide bomb attacks by militant groups operating in the country (Pakistan). The attackers included 10 boys some as young as 13 years and a nine-year old girl.”

The use of children in armed conflicts to fight the heinous wars of unscrupulous men has emerged as quite a common phenomenon worldwide. Young children are trained to use the gun and they are desensitised to human suffering so that life has no value for them. That is why they kill with impunity. Moreover, children are themselves victims of the violence and militancy that now grip Pakistan.

This is something very disturbing. It means that the cycle of violence will be perpetuated ad infinitum. Children who grow up in a violent environment become violent adults who accept death and destruction as something normal. Thus the cycle goes on from one generation to the next. This is not an ideal scenario for any society. Continue reading “Forced to kill”

Telling it as it is

By Zubeida Mustafa
AS Pakistan’s problems multiply, publications on Pakistan receive a corresponding boost. Never before have so many books on the country hit the shelf. Hence an author has to come up with something really new to justify writing about the country. Not many can do it and that is why many books appear to be a rehashed version of the same old story.

Seen from that perspective, journalist Babar Ayaz’s book, What’s Wrong with Pakistan?, might at first glance appear to be a narrative of Pakistan’s history that one would take up with a yawn. But once you start reading it, you find a freshness of approach to the issues that have nagged historians for many years. More so, Ayaz’s focused style makes this book a compelling read. Continue reading “Telling it as it is”

Abbottabad revisited

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE dust raised by the Abbottabad Commission’s report took long to settle. Each time it seemed the matter was settled, some new issue would emerge to stir ripples of excitement.

Now it is time to sit back and reflect calmly on what happened. The fact that the report was leaked and Al Jazeera posted it on its website is nothing unusual in this age of whistleblowers and hackers. After WikiLeaks, Abbottabad seemed child’s play in this context.

Since it has been claimed that the leaked draft is not the final and authentic one, I shall not go into the nitty-gritty of who was responsible for the intelligence failure in not detecting Osama bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad and not stopping the American helicopters’ incursion into Pakistani territory in May 2011. The leaked version of the report calls on the country’s leadership — “political, military intelligence and bureaucratic” — to formally apologise to the people of Pakistan for “their dereliction of duty”. This in all probability must have been retained in one form or another in the final version. Continue reading “Abbottabad revisited”

Licence to kill?

By Zubeida Mustafa

ANNIVERSARIES are a time for reflection. And if they are also marked with celebration, the idea is to reaffirm the spirit of the event that is being commemorated. That is what Pakistan’s independence day anniversary means to most of us.

There would be barely two million people left in Pakistan who would have any memory of the partition of India. Those who were old enough in 1947 to comprehend what was happening would be even fewer. Soon those who were witness to this momentous event will be gone and partition will live only in history books. Given our distorted historiography our progeny may never learn the truth.

I was too young to understand the wider implications of the political events of 1947. But I could feel the excitement of living in a new country in a state of fear generated by the bloodletting. There was, however, no sense of the ‘other’ who had to be hated and destroyed. The massacre that accompanied the events of 1947 had more of a political dimension than a religious one. Continue reading “Licence to kill?”

Looking for careers

By Zubeida Mustafa

A FEW weeks ago I wrote about the death of the social sciences. I didn’t realise that the social sciences still had such a devoted following in a country which has virtually murdered this branch of knowledge.

There were many who responded to my article — from both sides of the sciences. There were the champions of history, sociology and other similar disciplines who argued strongly in favour of the subject they had studied. Others said that we needed the physical sciences if we wanted the country to progress.

The most sensible point of view expressed came from a gynaecologist who has spent a lifetime in the profession and like all good gynaecologists has been involved in one way or another with family planning, infant mortality and neo-natal care. That has brought Dr Sadiqa Jafarey in touch with issues that basically fall in the domain of the social sciences. Continue reading “Looking for careers”