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

Publishing industry’s travail : Book production a high risk business

By Zubeida Mustafa

 BOOK PUBLISHING is a high risk business in Pakistan, says Mr Shams Quraeshi of Mackwin & Co. who has been in the book trade since 1947. Returns are slow in coming, hence not many people with capital to spare wish to invest in it. They would rather opt for an industry with quicker and guaranteed returns.

Even banks regard books as poor risk. Thus one can get a bank loan of Rs 80,000. against paper reams worth Rs 100,000. But as soon as the paper is converted into a book, no bank is prepared to accept it as security to advance a loan.

Malik Noorani, whose Maktabe-i- Daniyal has published the works of Faiz, Mushtaq Yusufi and Josh, considers himself to be lucky if he breaks even. “You have to be an entrepreneur, gambler and philanthropist to be a publisher. You also need a Qarun ka khazana and Ayub ka sabr,” sums up Mr Noorani, “I do not have the first, though I have the second.”

He admits that he manages to sell off all the books he publishes because he prices them abnormally low, which would not be feasible were he not subsidising his publications from his income from the sale of law books through the Pakistan Law House, which he runs at the Pakistan Chowk. In law books it is a seller’s market, Continue reading Publishing industry’s travail : Book production a high risk business

Publishing industry’s travail: Narrow market, poor technology inhibit expansion

By Zubeida Mustafa

IN 1978, the year for which full statistics are available, 642,000 titles were published in the world. Out of these Pakistan’s share was a meagre 1,317 titles, whereas Japan and West Germany, with smaller population produced over 43,000 and 50,000 titles respectively.

This projects a rather gloomy picture of the state of our book world. Things are said to Continue reading Publishing industry’s travail: Narrow market, poor technology inhibit expansion

DOOMSDAY: year 2001 Beef Rs. 100 a kilo, chicken Rs. 90: tiny flat rent Rs. 8,000

By Zubeida Mustafa

What will life be like twenty years hence? If you read science fiction and have a lively imagination you might conjure up fantasies of space travel, computers and robots. But if you are a hard-headed realist your thoughts should turn to how 154 million — instead of 85 million —- impoverished people will eke out a living in an underdeveloped country.

Lite, at least in Pakistan, is not going to be easy at the turn of the century. Problems are to be anticipated if projections made by experts are to be believed, and there is no reason why they should not be. This is how life will be in the year 2001: Karachi is a city of 18 million.

A middle class family like that of the Ahmads lives at least 50 kilometres away from the city centre where accommodation is relatively cheaper the rent of a tiny flat being Rs. 8,000 per month.

Thatta is a suburb of Karachi and given the pressures on trains and buses it takes Mr. Ahmad three hours to commute between home and place of work every morning.

Transport is not the only problem. There is not enough food to go around so it is rationed and Mrs. Ahmed spends hours standing in queues. Food is expensive too beef sells at Rs. 100 per kilo, chicken Rs. 90 per kilo and eggs cost Rs. 25 per dozen.

At the end of the working day Mr. Ahmad walks down fifteen floors rather than wait for a lift. When he returns home at 8 p.m. there is no recreation to look forward to. Continue reading DOOMSDAY: year 2001 Beef Rs. 100 a kilo, chicken Rs. 90: tiny flat rent Rs. 8,000

What our students get by way of history and social studies

By Zubeida Mustafa

Lubna was not even .four when Bangladesh was born in the midst of blood and tears. She was obviously too young to understand what was happening. Today Lubna is nearly fourteen and is appearing for her class nine examination this year. She still does not understand what happened in 1971. And you cannot really blame her for her lack of knowledge and understanding. Lubna is an intelligent and widely-travelled child who is definitely brighter than the average student of her age. All that her Pakistan Studies textbook tells her is that in December 1971 “half the country had been separated”. Fortunately she does not remember that in Class Five she had read in her Social Studies textbook, ‘Tne defeat of 1965 war did” not bring any change in the attitude of Bharat. It went on trying to harm Pakistan. This time it tried its luck on the eastern front. East Pakistan was surrounded by Bharat . . . A great number of Hindus lived there. Through its agents and other self seekers Bharat at first caused great troubles in East Pakistan and then attacked it from three sides .  The war continued for three weeks and ended in the creation of a separate state called Bangladesh.” Continue reading What our students get by way of history and social studies

Dr Schimmel & her sufis

By Zubeida Mustafa

“THE BEST ambassador Pakistan could ever have in Germany.” That is how a West German official described Dr Annemarie Schimmel. She is a lot more. In her quiet but keen manner she projects what is so beautiful and mystifying in the East. In Pakistan, Dr Schimmel needs no introduction though in West Germany her admirers are confined to a small circle of orientalists and, of course, those who are in any way interested in Pakistan.

Dr Annemarie Schimmel
Dr Annemarie Schimmel
The research she has carried out on Iqbal’s works and her publications on Mir Dard, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai and on Urdu literature generally have made her a familiar figure in literary circles here and even otherwise. Her frequent visits to Pakistan – in November she was here on her fifteenth trip – have also brought her in close contact with the land and the people.

A visit to Dr Schimmel’s home in Bonn’s Lennestrasse is quite an experience. It is like a journey to the orient in the heart of the West. Her living room and study are full of big and small souviners she has carried back with her from the east. The huge rilli piece pinned on the wall, the silver scrolls containing her honorary degrees from the Universities of Islamabad, Hyderabad and Peshawar, the Kufic and Naskh styles of calligraphic inscriptions and the paintings by Chughtai and other artists give an oriental touch to her home.

As she enthused about Pakistani handicrafts, Dr. Schimme! brought out a Sindhi kurta embroidered in rich hues and held it up admiringly. This little gesture, more than anything else, revealed her love for all that is traditional here.

Dr. Schimmel lives in Bonn for six months, where she is busy writing books, and for six months she teaches in Harvard. But she draws inspiration from the East as was clear to me from the discourse she went into on the colour combinations used in Sindhi embroidery. Why has someone not researched on this fascinating aspect of Sind’s handicraft, she stopped and wondered.

Dr. Schimmel’s interest in Pakistan, its languages, culture, and religion is quite fascinating. It was the Turkish language which first attracted her to the East. Gradually she was so taken up by her study of mysticism that she soon found herself learning other languages – Persian, Arabic, Urdu, Pushto, Sindhi – to keep up with “her sufis”, as she calls them. It was not just the sufis who drove her but also a quest for knowledge.

A friend had asked her to write an introduction to his book on the Makli Hills. While looking for material to acquaint herself with the subject, she discovered that most of this was in Sindhi. She simply went on_to_ learn the language. And that introduced her to yet another Sufi – Shah Abdul Latif.

Islam is another passion with Dr SchimmeL She did her doctoral research in Islamic studies. Not only the religion but also Islamic art and calligraphy fascinate her. Blended with her deep interest in sufism, her insight into Islam and Islamic culture has helped her to produce some of the best literature on Islam. One of her most outstanding publication is Mystical Dimension of Islam which was published in 1975. Her works Islamic Calligraphy and Islamic Literature in India had appeared earlier. Then came books on Dard, Shah Abdul Latif and Maulana Rumi. Her latest works which have just been published or are forthcoming are Islam in the Indian Subcontinent, Mystical Poetry in Islam and Veneration of the Holy Prophet in Islamic Literature.

 Given her deep interest in Islam, it is not surprising when people, especially Germans, ask Dr. Schimmel what her own faith is. She replies without much. ado: “I am a moderately born Christian.” And then she goes on to explain how she can look objectively at Islam without being sentimental about it.


feels this absence of subjective involvement gives her greater credibility and she can project more convincingly than a Muslim can all that is good in Islam. And there she is right because Islam, Sufism, Iqbal, Shah Abdul Latif and others acquire a new meaning when seen through Dr. Schimmel’s eyes.

From Dawn Archives

Published in Dawn, February 17, 1982


Sister Mary Emily—building the ‘builders’

By Zubeida Mustafa

“IT is a wonderful thing to work with young people,” says the Principal of the St. Josenh’s Government College for Women. “What thrills me most,” she continues, ”is the awareness I have that I am helping to build the builders of tomorrow.”

Any one who has studied at St. Joseph’s can understand her feelfngs fully for every student of the college has heard the principal speak again and again about what the goal of college education should be. She repeatedly emphasises that a college should prepare its students to face life as mature and responsible adults.


St. Joseph’s has changed in many ways over the years. The building, although the basic structure remains the same, has been expanded in some places. And, of course, the enrolment has grown phenomenally. Continue reading Sister Mary Emily—building the ‘builders’

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

Pakistan and CENTO: need for reappraisal

By Zubeida Mustafa

TO withdraw or not to  withdraw from CENTO is not a new question for Pakistan. The membership of the pact has been debated ever since this country decided to link its defence with the Western sponsored military alliance, originally called the Baghdad Pact.

However, recently this question has acquired a new meaning in view of the developments which have been taking place in the international politics of Central and South Asia. In this context some rethinking on Pakistan’s membership of CENTO should indeed prove to be quite timely, and it is a worthwhile idea to encourage a free and frank public debate on the issue. Besides being educative, this could promote a broad consensus on foreign policy. Continue reading Pakistan and CENTO: need for reappraisal