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”

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”

A scholar and a gentleman

By Zubeida Mustafa

Has Pakistan been reduced to such a hopeless state that even the most creative and prolific of intellectuals have run out of ideas on how the country can be redeemed? Hopefully not. But a meeting with Professor Khalid Bin Sayeed provided no reassuring answers. It left me wondering how Pakistan will be saved from certain disaster and who will play the role of the savior. Continue reading “A scholar and a gentleman”

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”

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”

Slow acceptance of a major breakthrough: Computerised calligraphy

By Zubeida Mustafa

IT IS now eighteen months that computerised Urdu nastaliq calligraphy has been in use in the country but it has yet to produce the impact on Urdu printing it could have been expected to. Only one machine is currently being used in Pakistan to bring out an Urdu daily from Lahore.

Why this delay in response? Not that the inventor, Mr Ahmed Mirza Jamil, has not Continue reading “Slow acceptance of a major breakthrough: Computerised calligraphy”

Woes of the printing industry: Need for duty cuts, cheap newsprint, incentives

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE TWO major problems facing the printing industry in Pakistan are the high cost of production and the poor quality of service provided. Identifying these two factors which determine the state of the industry today, Mr Ahmad Mirza Jamil, the outgoing Chairman of the Pakistan Association of Printing and Graphic Arts Industry (PAPGAI) points out that if the industry is surviving in the country it is because printers are operating in a seller’s market. The dismally low literacy rate, the poor reading habits of the people and the scarcity of low-priced books and literature are key indicators of the state of the publishing and printing industries in Pakistan.

It is not surprising to find these industries in a poor state. In a society where education is at a discount, the elements which go into the making of education also tend to be ignored. As compared with the publishing sector, printing is better off because it c to multifarious needs other than those of the publishers and stationers. The printer gets a substantial part of his business from the orders he receives for the printing of labels, cartons, pharmaceutical literature (which the majority of consumers cannot read), invitation and greeting cards and calendars. There is urgent need to look into the Continue reading “Woes of the printing industry: Need for duty cuts, cheap newsprint, incentives”

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”

The press: Thirty tortured years

 By Zuhair Siddiqui

geust-contTHE history of the first generation of Pakistan is strewn with mutilations of the rights and liberties that give meaning to political independence. Political activity and organisation, trade unionism, public speech, the people’s franchise, the gathering and publication of news, and press comment — all have been subjected during these thirty years to various kinds and degrees of restriction and control. The constraints have at times amounted to total suppression.

The denial of freedom to the Press, in a way, lies at the heart of the wider, perennial problem of authoritarianism and regimentation. The Press is the watchdog of the people’s freedom and, as an Englishman observed two centuries ago, its liberty is the “palladium of the civil, political and religious rights” of the individual.

Nearly a hundred and fifty years later, the truth of this pithy observation was elucidated by the great socialist political thinker, Harold Laski. He regarded an assertive critical spirit among the citizens as vital to the preservation of their rights, and the freedom of the Press as vital to the whole concept of responsible democratic government: Continue reading “The press: Thirty tortured years”

Mian Iftekhar-ud-Din – A man of courage

By Zuhair Siddiqi , Viewpoint, June 11, 1976

geust-contThis article was received too late for inclusion in our issue of June 6, which marked the fourteenth death anniversary of Mian Iftikhar­ud-Din.

On April 18, 1959, a half-educated military dictator, ad­vised and assisted by a clique of underlings, scribes of easy vir­tue, and elevated college passmen, seized the direction and control of the Progressive Papers —the publishers of The Pakis­tan Times, Imroze and Lail-o­-Nahar. A little over three years later—on June 6, 1962—the man who had founded the institution and been its moving spirit for over a decade, died.

Two days earlier, Mian Iftikhar­ud-Din and his political associates had been branded as enemies of the nation in a columnful of editorial gibberish on the front page of The Pakistan Times. When he died, somebody sarcas­tically remarked that that com­bination of political perversity and atrocious English had given the last blow to Mian Sahib’s ailing, lacerated heart.

It was the heyday of Ayub’s despotism, and the mourning for one of its chief victims was, understandably, a muted affair:

Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note—

A crowd of relatives, friends, admirers and old colleagues quietly laid him down in the family graveyard at Baghbanpura. Some dear and near ones cried quietly to themselves. Some newspapers carried perfunctory obituary notices, the most insi­pid ones being those of the news­papers that he had established and nurtured. Continue reading “Mian Iftekhar-ud-Din – A man of courage”