Women’s rights: Greater awareness than before

By Zubeida Mustafa

IS the International Women’s Day on March 8 to be dismissed as one of those occasions for the annual round of rituals and rhetorics which come to nought? The cynics are quick to point out that fiery speeches notwithstnding, the plight of women continues to be as dismal as ever.

True, the struggle for equality of status and the emancipation of women in Pakistan still has a long way to go. Women have not be accorded the basic rights or given the social recognition that are their due as human beings. They have not been integrated in the mainstream of national development. Hence Continue reading “Women’s rights: Greater awareness than before”

Larger allocations to help education and health sectors

By Zubeida Mustafa

AN UNUSUAL feature of the Federal Finance Minister’s budget speech on Thursday was the emphasis he placed on the need to develop the social sector in Pakistan, especially education.

His professed concern at the poor state of this sector was expressed in the shape of enormous increases in allocations for some of the social sector items in the Budget.

This is significant, given the poor performance of the Government in the fields of health and education — none of the Sixth Plan targets in these fields could be met in the first two years.

It has been clear that the major factor responsible for this state of affairs has been the paucity of resources made available to the social sector. In terms of budgetary allocations, the pace of implementation of the Sixth Plan has also been painfully slow. Only 23 per cent of the planned amount was spent on education and 27 per cent on health in the first two years of the Sixth Plan period. Continue reading “Larger allocations to help education and health sectors”

Rape of the law

By Zuhair Siddiqui

geust-contThe sweep of events during the past half year has been dramatic and fast, and the Bhutto and Indira regimes already seem to belong to a distant past; but as their leaders desperately try to pull themselves out of the meshes of the law, one is struck by the contrast between their past contempt for “Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence” and their present determination to exploit its mechanisms to the full.

“Certainly no man can over estimate the importance, of the mechanisms of justice. There have been greater avenues to freedom than that beaten out by the writ of habeas corpus…

“What seem, on the surface, insignificantly procedural changes — as when a man becomes entitled to a copy of the indictment upon which he is charged, or is able, in the witness-box, to testify upon his own behalf, or may appeal from the verdict of a jury and the sentence of a judge to a body of legal experts beyond them — these, for all their forbiddingly technical character, are more nearly related to freedom than the splendid sentences in which Rousseau depicts the conditions of their attainment. Continue reading “Rape of the law”

Why Bhutto fell

By Zuhair Siddiqui

geust-contTHE despotic personality is immune from many “weaknesses” to which ordinary mortals are susceptible. One of these is a willingness to admit failure. The King can do no wrong, nor can he fail.

Even in the spring of 1945, as the Reich that he had built crumbled, most of Germany lay in ruins and Russian tanks rolled into Berlin, Hitler remained unshaken in his confidence that all that he had done was right. “From first to last,” says his biographer, Alan Bullock, his will and political testament shows “not a word of regret, nor a suggestion of remorse. The fault is that of others, above all that of the Jews, for even now the old hatred is unappeased. Word for word. Hitler’s final address to the German nation could be taken from almost any of his early speeches of the 1920’s or from the pages of Mein Kampf. Twenty odd years had changed and taught him nothing.” Continue reading “Why Bhutto fell”

A nation in search of its culture

This article was sent to me by the writer’s daughter, Sarah Siddiqi. Zuhair Siddiqi was a senior journalist who died in a road accident in 1979

 By Zuhair Siddiqi

guest-contributorIt is not surprising that Pak­istan, which has now completed 29 years of her life, should still be involved in a debate on the roots and character, the substance and orientation, of her culture.

Perhaps, no other newly libera­ted nation has experienced cul­tural problems of such complexi­ty. The birth of Pakistan was not the mere emergence of a country from political slavery into sovereign independence. Nor was the partition that it in­volved a simple case of separa­tion, like that of Burma from British India ten years earlier. The new State came into being as the result of a three-way parti­tion — of the Indian sub-continent, of Muslim India, and of the two major Muslim provinces. Continue reading “A nation in search of its culture”