All posts by Zubeida Mustafa

SIUT on life-saving mission

94-20-01-1996a                                                                                                                                     KARACHI: The light at the end of the tunnel for Karim Dad is growing dim-. He is a 36-year-old farm worker from Tando Jan Mohammad and has lived on dialysis for the last five years. A patient of end-stage kidney failure, Karim Dad could not have survived had he not been visiting the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation, Civil Hospital, Karachi, twice a week to be hooked on to the dialysis machine which removes impurities from his blood. (This function is normally performed by the kidneys in a healthy person.)

SIUT has spent Rs 400,000 on Karim Dad so far and not charged him a penny. In the private sector, Karim Dad would have had to pay Rs 1,000,000 for dialysis to stay alive — something beyond his means.

Nizamuddin, a 30-year vegetable vendor from Orangi Town, is in the same boat. A patient of kidney failure, he has been coming for free dialysis to SIUT since July 1990. Continue reading SIUT on life-saving mission

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SIUT on life-saving mission

By Zubeida Mustafa

The light at the end of the tunnel for Karim Dad is growing dim. He is a 36-year-old farm worker from Tando Jan Mohammad and has lived on dialysis for the last five years. A patient of end-stage kidney failure, Karim Dad could not have survived had he not been visiting the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation, Civil Hospital, Karachi, twice a week to be hooked on to the dialysis machine which removes impurities from his blood. (This function is normally performed by the kidneys in a healthy person.) Continue reading SIUT on life-saving mission

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Spirit of Sisterhood

91-03-10-1995-B

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE  FOURTH WORLD Conference on Women held in Beijing in September was like the proverbial elephant and the blind men. The reactions it evoked were conditioned by the perception of each observer. It was billed as the “largest gathering ever for a UN conference on women” by Newsweek and a gathering of women who “suddenly loom as a great force” by Betty Friedan, the author of Feminine Mystique and the founder of the American feminist movement in the sixties. Continue reading Spirit of Sisterhood

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CPLC: a viable allternative to the police?

 

90-28-07-1995-ABy Zubeida Mustafa

THE TRAUMATISED citizens of Karachi, where violence has killed over 1900 people in 18 months, live with a dilemma. Should they seek the help of the police in an emergency?

The harrowing experiences people recount of the law enforcers’ highhandedness deter victims of crime from seeking redress. Only in serious cases involving murder, kidnapping and car snatching are reports lodged, when one cannot avoid dealing with the custodians of the law.

The failure of the police to curb crime and violence in Karachi in a way vindicates the skepticism of the public. The credibility of the police is low and rampant corruption has robbed them of the confidence of the people. But the situation need not be all that bleak. Crime and violence need not be the curse of Karachi, if only the political will and the necessary systems are created to make the city safe and secure.

This can be done, as has been convincingly proved by Jameel Yusuf, who co-founded with Nazim Haji the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee in 1990 when kidnapping for ransom had become a lucrative occupation in Karachi Since most of the victims were businessmen who were targeted because of their wealth, it was not surprising that two of their most dynamic members should have decided to act. That saw the birth of the CPLC, of course with the government’s blessings. Governor Fakhruddin Ebrahim gave the Committee space in the Governor’s House compound to set up its Central Reporting Cell with all its electronic adgetry and computers. Within five years, the CPLC had proved that the most hopeless of situations can be changed. The incidence of kidnapping for ransom fell from 79 in 1990 to three this year because the Committee’s success in solving a high number of cases has proved to be a deterrent.90-28-07-1995-CMore important than that was the fact that for the first time a new avenue was now available to the harassed citizens to seek prompt redress when they became victims of police excesses. The CPLC has emerged as an arbiter to look into the citizens’ complaints against the police.

Given his excellent track record, Jameel Yusuf’s observations carry a lot of weight. But he knows his limits. He will not try to bend the law and operates within the existing legal framework — though he does feel that many laws need changing and it is time our lawmakers did something about it. He is also very categorical about the nature of the present violence in Karachi: it has political roots and should therefore be resolved at the political level. Hence the dialogue between the government and the MQM is a positive development,
though the good offices of a mediator could have helped reconcile the differences between the two sides
faster. After all, the disagreements are quite basic. The person who is seen as a terrorist by one side is a freedom fighter for the other.

90-28-07-1995-BMoreover, the crisis in Karachi also has a social dimension for which the CPLC chief blames the
government — in fact all governments which have been in power. They have neglected this metropolis wilfully while fleecing it to the maximum. “If you cannot provide people the basic civic amenities which are their due such as water, sanitation and electricity and they are denied their fundamental rights of schooling for their children and jobs for their youth, how can you expect the citizens not to get disgruntled. That is how some elements have been able to exploit the deprivation and discontent of the people of Karachi for their political ends,” Jameel notes philosophically. They train the teenagers to use the gun and promise to give the people what others have failed to provide in 48 years.

But even with the best of political governance, crime cannot be eradicated totally. In fact, it has been growing worldwide with the growth in population and the development of technology. This needs to be combated with the help of an efficient police force. Do we have such a force?

Jameel Yusuf has specific ideas about the role of the police. He has studied and worked with the Karachi police very closely — that is what the CPLC has been doing in the last five years — and has managed to make inroads into some vital areas of crime detection.

He admits that to a great extent the police is corrupt and inept. But for that he blames the government and the administration. No effort has been made to recruit the right people for the job. Every government which comes into office doles out political favours by getting its supporters appointed to the force. With a stroke of the pen, a political leader has hundreds of men with unknown antecedents recruited in the police. The home addresses they supply are fake. Their characters have not been verified and their records are not available. Yet they have been trained and provided arms ostensibly to fight crime.”Now you have the unenviable situation where you are required to fight the terrorism let loose by many of the same people you yourself have trained and armed. The poor civilians who are not responsible for this state of affairs have become innocent victims,” Jameel observes.

What is needed is a major change in the mode of recruitment to the force. Recruitment needs to
be conducted professionally. Why is it that no one questions the discipline in the armed forces? There is
a chain of command there, and there are rigorous procedures and qualifications for recruitment. Besides, no one can jump ranks or outsiders brought in to infiltrate it. Why are policemen appointed without proper testing? Why are many of them inducted in midstream overriding someone who should have been senior? They are not even required to have passed their Intermediate exam and that is why their expertise is so low.
Jameel Yusuf very strongly recommends that an independent commission be set up to recruit the police. Without some set standards on the basis of which the policemen are selected, the force can never act as a truly professional body. Jameel Yusuf is also critical of the fact that every government in power has sought to use the police for its pojitical ends. This has corrupted the police more than anything else and robbed it of its credibility.cplc

Another factor which he thinks is important to promote a closer rapport between the public and the police is to give it a local complexion. “I don’t ask for the police to be constituted on ethnic lines,” the CPLC chief stresses. “What I do want is that the policemen in a thana be taken from the same neighbourhood where they have lived for years and have their roots there.” Thus they will not only have an interest in the community tljey are serving. They will also be known to the people who live in that neighbourhood. That will act as a check on their committing any excesses. It will also facilitate the work of law enforcement. The police could be linked up with voluntary citizens’ organisations of the area. This liaison between the police and the neighbourhood would be more effective in maintaining law and order

Buf that is not all. The whole system has to be revamped and the police has to be trained and equipped as a modern force. That would by itself help root out quite a bit of the corruption in its ranks. At present, the lowly-paid policeman is expected to run a thana in which even the stationery is not provided. On nine litres of petrol, the mobile is expected to patrol the thana round the clock. The thanedar is expected to feed his family on Rs 2000 or so a month. In other words, the government will have to spend more money on this sector if the police are to work more honestly and efficiently.

The system is so corrupt and obsolete that it is unbelievable. Jameel Yusuf gives examples. “The police
comes out with names of people who are wanted for innumerable crimes. They are nominated in FIRs
as was the case with the Liaquatabad supermarket killings. But they cannot be identified because the police has no records, though they are all men wanted for earlier crimes. They don’t even have photographs
This inefficiency and corruption extend to other departments of the administration as well and affect
the working of the police. For a paltry sum of Rs 2000, a person can obtain a fake identity card. We
have caught people who had fixed their picture on the ID card of a dead man and got away with it.Many people are released on bail on the basis of forged documents which cannot be verified because a letter from one government department never reaches another. Thus the criminal is back in the world of crime,” Jameel Yusuf says.

But most appalling is the failure of the authorities to acquire the latest technology for storing data, monitoring and scanning records. Such technology is available in Pakistan and the CPLC has demonstrated
its effectiveness. At its central reporting cell, computers are used to keep records of all.the cars registered with the motor vehicle department and of the vehicles snatched. This makes it possible to trace their movement in many cases. That is how at one time the CPLC could recover more than 40 per cent of the cars lost. (The recovery rate has gone down not because of any lapses in monitoring but because of lack ,of cooperation tion from the other provinces where these cars are re-registered and sold.)

With the help of this data, the CPLC can tell you which colour and make is most in demand by the car-lifters (white/red Suzuki), which are the days of the week you are most vulnerable (Thursday)
and the time and locality you are most likely to be a victim (one example, between 8-9 p.m. in the
Delton area of Defence Society). The cell has used computers to draw pictures of suspects and scanners to intercept telephone conversations which has helped them trace kidnappers demanding a ransom. Modern technology and methodology are available to conduct investigations in a civilized and scientific manner without torturing and killing a man. Jameel Yusuf is sorry that they are not being put to use in Pakistan by the police

The CPLC’s mandate is not to replace the police. But in the areas it has been asked to intervene, the CPLC has made a breakthrough. This should be reassuring to a demoralised public. But by its very nature, the agency cannot adopt a high profile. When the people in distress who approach it for help do not want the case to be publicised, Jameel Yusuf says that they have to respect the wishes of the party concerned. If they start producing an annual report of their work, they will be treading on many toes. So they keep quiet about it. They, however, have their accounts audited and they are available for scrutiny. But there is one area in which the CPLC would not like to be he quiet: in creating public awareness about safety measures. “We would like to tell the people how to protect their houses and motor cars. What to do and what not to do to preempt the criminal,” the CPLC chief says. But their resources are limited. They have tried a media campaign in newspapers. The ideal would be crime-watch spots on television but the government has not responded to this suggestion and CPLC does not have the resources to do it on its own as PTV wants it to ay excise duty for such ads. The disarray in the administration and the relative efficiency of the unofficial sector has convinced Jameel Yusuf that the only hope for the country lies in entrusting more and more responsibility to the NGOs. True, not all NGOs are honest and actually functioning. But there are some which are doing good work and making a headway. He is right, for after all the CPLC is an NGO, and its limited resources notwithstanding, it has achieved what the police could not.

But one may add, it is not just the expertise that is necessary. Motivation, dynamism and integrity also count. The CPLC has all three under Jameel Yusuf’s leadership.

Soure: Dawn 28 July 1995

 

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Filling a vacuum

89-11-07-1995

By Zubeida Mustafa

Wnen I went to call on Safina Siddiqi on her return from South Africa where she had gone to receive UNEP’s Global 500 Roll of Honour award on the World Environment Day, she was not home. Her house-help who has been with the family for over 20 years duly informed me that she was somewhere in the neighbourhood. I set out to hunt for her, being familiar as I was with her favourite haunts. Within five minutes I had located Safina. There she was at the roadside supervising the planting of saplings. Her hands were full of soil, for she considers her supervision incomplete if she does not show her personal involvement in the work by joining the gardeners in their task.

That did not surprise me. For that is how I have always found Safina — down-to-earth, unassuming with no airs about her and always ready to pitch in when help is needed. No sooner had I asked her how she was, that her eyes lit up and she went on to give me the details of how she had planted sixty-two saplings further down the road before she left for Pretoria. Continue reading Filling a vacuum

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Will Hira be able to cope when she gets back?

88-19-05-1995-B

By Zubeida Mustafa

A few months ago, there was no light at the end of the tunnel for Anwar Jamal. Today, he and his wife Fatima are at peace with themselves and grateful for that.

As the parents of triplets, two of whom were born joined at the head, for two years the Jamals had to live with this aberration. Their life was being affected and they could not figure out a solution to their problem.

When I met them in their apartment in the MacDonald House close to the Hospital for Sick Children (HJSC) in Toronto in April, they had lost one of the conjoined twins, Nida, six weeks ago. But there were hopes for Hira, the surviving sister, who had lived for 27 months joined to Nida until they were separated after a 17-hour operation on January 23. Continue reading Will Hira be able to cope when she gets back?

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Surviving twin Hira may return soon

By Zubeida Mustafa

TORONTO, April 6: The 30- month-old surviving conjoined twin, Hira Jamal, who was separated from her sister, Nida, in January at the Hospital for Sick Children after a 17-hour operation, is doing well and will shortly be returning home to Karachi.

On Wednesday, Hira underwent a reconstructive surgery on her scalp. If the post-operation healing is normal, as Dr Harold Hoffman, the neurosurgeon under whose care Hira has been, hopes it will be, the infant should be released from the hospital in a few weeks.

Hira’s Siamese twin sister was Nida, from whom she had been inseparable for over two years until Dr Hoffman performed a surgical feat to separate them. Nida died a month after the operation. The two girls along with a third, Faryal, were born to Fatema Jamal in October 1992 in a Nazimabad clinic. Faryal was normal, while the other two were joined at the head — a rare condition said to occur in one in two million births.

Hira and Nida spent the first two years of their lives at the National Institute of Child Health in Karachi. The turning point came when Dawn carried a report on them and Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto announced that the government would help bear the cost of the twins’ surgery abroad. Since then the Hira-Nida story has been a remarkable tale of human compassion, professional devotion and skill and fund-raising which has transcended international boundaries. Talking to Dawn, Dr Hoffman was full of praise for his team which participated in the operation that has given Hira the chance to lead a normal life. A price had to be paid and Nida died. Dr Hoffman said: “The case was more complicated than we had initially believed. Nida’s kidneys were not functioning and we had to transplant one of Hjra’s organs in Nida. Hira’s heart was under strain since it was pumping blood into her twin sister’s circulatory system. If we had not operated, both would have died. In spite of the risk factors, I had been hopeful for both.”

About 10 surgeons and specialists have been involved in this case — one of the 30 recorded in medical history when an attempt has been made to separate Siamese twins joined at the head. They have waived their fees. The Pakistani community in Toronto has so far raised 260,000 dollars to help meet the hospital costs and the board and lodging expenses of the twins’ parents and the third sister who accompanied them to Canada. The Pakistan government’s contribution has been to the tune of 135,000 dollars. PIA provided free tickets.

Dr Hoffman is confident that Hira will grow up to be a normal child. At present she is undergoing ‘therapy to help her sit, stand and walk, which she could not do before, because of her handicap. Initially after the operation, she missed her twin sister, Nida, but has forgotten her now. Without the medical / surgical skills, nursing and therapy offered by Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, Hira’s chances of survival would have been nil. The Pakistani community pitched in with fund raising and social support to help the Jamal family tide over the crisis.

Dawn: 07-04-1995

 

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An unemotional look at Edhi

 By Zubeida Mustafa

85-13-01-1995ABDUS SATTAR EDHI has been in the news ever since television brought him into the limelight with a programme on him in 1988. Pictures of him standing on the roadside to collect alms (bheek, to use his own word) are quite familiar to newspaper readers. Unfortunately, the maulana (as he is fondly called because of his shaggy beard) was forced to leave the country recently when he felt threatened. His statements accusing unnamed agencies of trying to eliminate him politicised him, which is not something good for his work. One only hopes the row will blow over.

The fact is no one has ever questioned this old man’s love for thpoor. His work for the destitute has not only brought him recognition and laurels (including the coveted Ramon Magsaysay award). It has also won for him the confidence of the people. The faith the public has reposed in him is central to his work. For Edhi’s huge network of welfare organisations depends entirely on voluntary donations worth over Rs two billion.  According to the same calculation, the maulana needs another 210 million to invest and bring returns to meet his day-to-day expenses. But he has other ambitions too. He wants to set up a chain of welfare centres 25 kilometres apart all over the country.

For a semi-literate person with hardly any political or social clout to mobilise massive amounts through voluntary donations, at times by simply standing on the roadside collection box in hand, is so remarkable. More so, because the donations come from a society so notorious as ours for tax evasion. It is difficult to believe that people who go to all extremes to cheat the government can be so generous when it comes to giving donations for a charitable cause.But the army of beggars which subsists on public philanthropy, the langars set up outside mazaars and other congregation spots to feed the poor, and the scores of appeals for assistance (which are presumably answered) from organisations is working for public welfare are testimony to the generosity of the Pakistanis. Continue reading An unemotional look at Edhi

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An adversarial relationship

 By Zubelda Mustafa

84-06-09-1994In one of his periodic meetings with newspaper editors , President Ayub Khan tried to draw a reticent Zahoor Husain Choudhury, a senior and eminent journalist and editor of Sangbad, into the discussion. “Choudhury Sahib are you not concerned about freedom of expression in Pakistan?” the Field Marshal enquired.

“Oh yes sir, I am. But I am more worried about freedom after expression,” the witty editor replied. The repartee describes in a nutshell the adversarial state of the Press-government relationship that has been the traditional pattern in this country. Continue reading An adversarial relationship

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At SIUT the dead help the living

Shehnaz: A gift of life from the Netherlands
Shehnaz: A gift of life from the Netherlands

By Zubeida Mustafa

The story begins five thousand miles away in the Dutch city of Maastricht. In mid-January a 14-year old girl slips into a coma and dies due to a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. Her grief-stricken parents decide to gift her organs to the dying. Thus they would have the satisfaction of knowing that a part of their child has not died.

That is how the central registry of the Eurotransplant Foundation in Lieden gets an AB+ blood group donor.

It is noon in Karachi. At the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) in the Civil Hospital there is a call for the director, Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi, from Dr Ganke Kootstra of the University of Maastricht. There is a cadaveric kidney available. Does Karachi have an endstage renal failure patient who needs the organ and has the matching tissue type?

Thus begins the miracle for Shehnaz, a young woman of 24 and a resident of New Karachi. She has been haunted by the spectre of death for the last four months since her kidneys stopped working. She has survived with the help of dialysis — a procedure in which the function of cleansing the impurities in the blood is performed by a machine to which the patient’s artery is hooked. But life has been robbed of all joy. Since October Shehnaz has had to come to the Institute thrice a week for a four-hour dialysis session. Then too, she feels fit for only a day, after which the nausea returns. She also gets breathless. Continue reading At SIUT the dead help the living

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