Category Archives: Politics

Basic rights and power structure

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

PRESIDENT Pervez Musharraf’s constitutional packages have focused public attention on the political power structure in the country. True, this is important, since the wielders of power do have the options and opportunity to change macro policies which vitally determine the state of the nation.

But recent happenings indicate that many of our woes stem from the power imbalance within society itself. There are many other factors which also influence social attitudes and thereby the power structure in society.
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AUTHOR: Making people think

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE response to Professor Noam Chomsky’s visit to Pakistan in November 2001 was too overwhelming for words. Chomsky is known to be a crowd-puller in the United States and elsewhere — his talks being heard typically by standing-room-only audiences. Hence it was not strange that his planned visit should send a wave of excitement among the students and intellectuals in this country.
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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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A new look at old freedom movement myths

Hamza-Alavi-17-05-1996-1

By Zubeida Mustafa
Professor Hamza Alavi has recently been in town. The suave, soft-spoken scholar, who says he developed a social conscience and became a socialist even before he had ever heard the word, has lived abroad for over three decades in pursuit of his academic career. Now he plans returning permanently to the city of his birth. That is, if he does not change his mind at the eleventh hour as he has done before. Continue reading A new look at old freedom movement myths

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School education: Addressing the human dimension

By Zubeida Mustafa

Education has traditionally been a low priority sector in Pakistan. This is best illustrated by an incident, seemingly trivial but profoundly meaningful, that took place a long time ago.

After Governor-General Ghulam Mohammad had sworn in Mohamed Ali Bogra’s cabinet, he realised that no minister for education had taken the oath of office Hurriedly, one of the departing politicians was. recalled and the education portfolio was unceremoniously thrust upon him.

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Things might be slightly better today. Heads, of governments remember the education portfolio when forming their cabinets — but more because they do not want to let one opportunity for patronage go by default. Continue reading School education: Addressing the human dimension

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No ambassador can be greater than his country

By Zubeida Mustafa

It had been a really windy day. The Karachi University campus wore a dusty look. That was not unusual. In those days there were few trees and greenery to shield it from the sprawling sandy wastes where Gulshan-i-Iqbal stands today. When we reached the University we found the tables, chairs and blackboard in the Seminar Room coated with dust which had also drawn wavy patterns on the floor.

We had learnt to ignore the natural elements as the price we had to pay for the spaciousness of the campus. This day was no different until Dr Khurshid Hyder reached the University in time for her class. She was teaching us International Relations. No sooner had she arrived, that every one was acutely made aware of how unacceptable it was for academics to be in unclean surroundings. She went straight for the broom and without much ado began sweeping the room. Of course that stirred every one into action and the students promptly took over the clean-up operation. She had given the lead. Continue reading No ambassador can be greater than his country

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Women in politics: The great paradox

By Zubeida Mustafa

ELECTIONS- 88 in Pakistan have highlighted the two paradoxes that have come to characterise the role of women in politics in a number of Third World countries. At one end are a handful of enterprising, educated and emancipated women who participate in the political processes and gain general acceptance in leadership roles. At the other end are the women among the masses who lack education, political awareness and personal freedom. Their involvement in politics is minimal.

What is significant in Pakistan is that the size of the small group of women active in politics is growing, while the number of those uninvolved in and untouched by the electoral exercise which is the essence of a democratic system is shrinking. In the elections this time the women’s presence on the political scene created a greater impression than ever before. Continue reading Women in politics: The great paradox

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Empty corridors

By Zubeida Mustafa

Universities are the future of the nation. The gloom in the university today looks like a forecast for the future of the country.

 Nothing sums up more poignantly the state of affairs at the University of Karachi and its ominous implications for society as these words uttered despairingly by an eminent educationist.

What should be perturbing is that the death-like stillness which has pervaded the campus in the last few weeks since it was abruptly closed for an indefinite period in mid-January has become a normal pattern of university life in Karachi. The NED and the professional colleges have not escaped the malaise of frequent unscheduled closures either. Continue reading Empty corridors

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The Quaid’s tragic last hours

By Zuhair Siddiqui

geust-contTHE obscurity that still partly shrouds the childhood and earlier years of the creator of Pakistan is understandable. Some of the story will ever remain untold. The child who was destined to carve out a new State was born to an ordinary family of Khoja tradesmen practically unknown outside business circles in Karachi and Bombay.

The young Mohammad All was no prodigy and his name does not feature on the roll of honour of any school. The records of the schools that he attended tell us little beyond his registered date of birth and the dates of his joining and leaving. He left his last school, and the country, before matriculation. Continue reading The Quaid’s tragic last hours

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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

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