Elma’s choice

By Zubeida Mustafa

It was April 6, 1992, Eid for the Muslims of Bosnia, when the Yugoslav army struck. The Serbian soldiers had been taking up position on the hills surrounding Sarajevo since winter and we sensed that something out of the ordinary was taking place. However, we never really anticipated a war. Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic society but we had never been conscious of our ethnic distinctiveness. Many of my friends were Serbs and Croats with whom I had grown up, and none of us believed that we would fight each other.

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America’s propaganda war

By Zubeida Mustafa                               Page –

IN the current American ‘war against terror’, words and images have proved to be as potentially lethal as the missiles, that the US aircraft are raining down on Kabul every day. If the bombs are designed to destroy the “enemy’s” military power, the media’s propaganda war is paradoxically directed towards the people of the United States itself. Without their tacit support, the Bush administration would find it difficult to conduct military operations against another country. This is so because it has bypassed the constitutional requirement for a formal declaration of war, he has become the practice in Washington, Hence the need to mobilize popular opinion in favour of a senseless war which will kill innocent civilians and not yield fruitful results. Continue reading “America’s propaganda war”

Is there a propaganda war on?

By Zubeida Mustafa

AS the American war  in Afghanistan moves  from one phase to the  next, a significant parallel  development is taking  place on the media front.  This is the propaganda  war, which has been  unleashed. For the western  television and radio  channels as well as the  press,  the crisis which has  emerged since September  11 has come as the  opportunity of the century  to make news. Continue reading “Is there a propaganda war on?”

A new actor in world politics

By Zubeida Mustafa

IN the aftermath of the   horrendous bombing of   the World Trade Centre   in New York, the most significant   development to   have taken place is the   war psychosis, which is   calculatedly being whipped   up. This could spin   out of control, bringing   devastating consequences   not just for the region   around Afghanistan, but   also for the whole world.

The media, both electronic   and print, national and foreign,   have played a key role in creating   this climate of hatred and   fear. They got the cue from the   Bush administration’s strong   response to the events of Black   Tuesday. One could have hardly   expected the American president   to have reacted differently   in the initial moments of the   tragedy, given the magnitude of   the devastation and the   grave implications of the   breach   of American intelligence.

What comes as a matter   of   deep concern is the   emergence of the media as   a new actor in international politics. From a tool to disseminate information (at times also a propaganda weapon), the electronic media are virtually using their newly-acquired power to propel inter-state relations in the 21st century. This is frightening, given their enormous reach and ubiquitous presence in the age of cable and satellite television. Continue reading “A new actor in world politics”

How the laws treat the second half

By Zubeida Mustafa

The role of legislation in the emancipation and empowerment of women has been the subject of much debate in discourses on women’s rights. Can laws reform the status of women when society is not prepared to introduce changes? In other words can transformation in the condition of women in a society be brought about through law making rather than the social process? Continue reading “How the laws treat the second half”

Dr Mubarak Ali – With a sense of history

By Zubeida Mustafa

IN Dr Mubarak Ali’s case, appearances can be deceptive. It is incredible that this soft-spoken, unassuming man has shaken the establishment with his liberal interpretation of history. He has become persona non grata for many who do not wish to upset the apple cart — be it in politics or in the academia. Yet Mubarak Ali is one of the most prolific and versatile historians in Pakistan today. The author of countless books, he has written extensively on issues ranging from the Age of Reason in Europe to the women’s movement and the history of South Asia.
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Beginning with the trial

By Zubeida Mustafa

VICTORIA Schofield shot into the limelight in Pakistan when she visited this country to attend the trial of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1978-79. The outcome of this visit was the book, Bhutto: Trial and Execution. Published in 1979 by Cassell, it was the first book to cover an event which was a landmark in Pakistan’s turbulent history. With the press stifled under a blanket of pre-censorship imposed by General Ziaul Haq, the people were starved for news. Schofield’s book attracted much attention and the copies which managed to find their way into the country were immediately doing the rounds to meet the demands of voracious readers.

There has to be a compelling reason for a Western writer to get interested in South Asia. In Schofield’s case the reason was her “friendship with Benazir Bhutto”, a contemporary at Oxford where the two were elected to the Oxford Union — Benazir as the president and Schofield as the librarian. When Benazir was leaving for home she invited Schofield to visit Pakistan. In the summer of 1977 came the military coup and Bhutto’s trial. Continue reading “Beginning with the trial”

The sun of Dawn

By Zubeida Mustafa and Maheen A. Rashdi

THE year was 1973 and it was the month of February — a time of crisis in national politics. President Bhutto had summarily dismissed the NAP governors of Balochistan and the NWFP. This paper reported the incident in banner headlines. Lost in those tumultuous events of the time was a change of another kind which took place the same day. Ahmad Ali Khan took over as acting editor of Dawn. Continue reading “The sun of Dawn”

Waiting for the miracle

The SIUT staff:
“It is teamwork,” says Prof Adibul Hasan Rizvi sitting sixth from left with Prof Rela on his right).

By Zubeida Mustafa

It is estimated that 2,000 children (may be even more) die of liver failure in Pakistan every year when their lives could be saved by a liver ansplantation   Continue reading “Waiting for the miracle”

Playing with fire

By Zubeida Mustafa

Mushtaq Gazdar is not the run-of-the-mill film producer/director. His forte is art films, which have won him international awards. One remembers his masterpiece. They are killing the horse, which portrayed the agony of a young girl suffering from mental stress. This along with Concert on the footpath, Songs of wishes and Muharram in Karachi are now available on a video cassette.

When Gazdar announced that his next project was a television drama serial, it naturally raised many expectations. He had dabbled in television before with the screening of his play Girastan, for PTV two years ago. His latest enterprise Dard Ka samandar, is based on a true love story and Gazdar has injected an innovative dimension in the 12 – episode drama.

The play has been handled with great sensitivity and its striking feature is its theme. Gazdar’s equally talented wife, writer Saeeda Gazdar, wrote the script. The couple have helped Rashida Patel’s Legal Aid Centre produce documentaries on women’s issues to create public awareness. Each woman they interviewed had a story to tell and one of the stories was very moving, which inspired them to make the serial. It has romance, mystery and social drama rolled in one.

When a young couple, Maryam (played by Mariam Yousuf) and Anwar Khan (Imam) fall in love they cannot tie the nuptial knot in normal circumstances because Anwar’s father, Nizam Khan, has other plans for his son. In the face of the opposition from their families, Anwar and Maryam seek the help of a Qazi to get their marriage solemnized. After that it is an uphill task. They encounter all kinds of obstacles ranging from the discriminatory laws of the land, a hostile police, unsympathetic courts and so on.

We do not know how the story ends. The premier at the P.A.C.C. last week was designed to give the journalists just a glimpse of the play. The second episode of 22 minutes and a scene or two from the first and third episodes were televised. It was, however, enough to give a feel of the play. As Saeeda said in her introductory speech, the play captures the heartache of romance, which knows no bounds, “Only one who has loved can understand that,” she remarked.

Dard ka samandar has beauty of its own as a work of art. It took Gazdar two years to produce. It initially started as a long play but expanded as it went along. Besides, it was self-financing venture, which meant, “diverting myself to the bread and butter assignments whenever the occasion demanded, “Gazdar said. With a massive cast of 42 – all newcomers to the world of show-biz except one – the film proved to be quite a challenge for its director. The scenes had to be repeated again and again for the artistes were novices and had to be trained while the shooting was taking place. Asma Ahmad of the PACC. selected many of them from her music and theatre classes.

Why the compulsion for new faces? Gazdar excels in filming real life in all its splendor and squalor. He is basically a masterly producer of documentaries which he skillfully featurizes to attract a bigger audience. Dard Ka samandar was to be shot outdoors at natural locations such as crowded shrines, marketplaces, and other public sites. Well-known film and TV artistes would have attracted too much attention for the filming to be done naturally. On the other hand the actors and actresses making their debut could mingle with the crowds without anyone ever knowing that a film was being shot.

In many places Gazdar encouraged characterization as he proceeded. Some characters are real life ones and were picked by the producer because they fitted their role so well. Thus the saintly figure at the shrine that performed the nikah in the film actually solemnizes marriages at a mazar. Gazdar told him what was required of him and he proceeded to enact his role delivering the dialogue in his own words. As a result the play is natural and has no artificiality about it.

The central message of the play was summed up beautifully by Huma Mir (the advocate in the play) at the premier in PACC. She appealed to the people not to obstruct the marriage of two people in love. It drives them to extreme measures, which can have grave consequences in our society. Huma has put it so aptly and Gazdar has filmed it touchingly.

Source: Dawn 23 May 1993