Journalists urged to strive for civil society
KARACHI- Speakers at the book launching of the late Najma Babar’s book at Karachi Press Club paid tributes to the late journalist. They recalled Najma’s role in her 24-year journalistic career and the issues, particularly relating to women, discussed in her reports and features.
The speakers at a largely attended gathering were of the view that the themes raised by her were still relevant. Minorities are still being victimised. Human rights are being abused as not much has changed since her death four year ago.
Zohra Yousof, who wrote prologue of Najma’s book “The Dispossessed”, in her speech said that Najma was a journalist, a politically conscious individual, and a woman who believed passionately in equality. “As a reporter and a feature writer, she was extremely thorough in her work,” Zohra, who has also worked with late Najma at Star, said. She said the collection of columns reflected Najma’s concerns, both as citizen of Karachi and as a woman of this country. She combined the attributes of a reporter and columnist to produce features that went beyond mere opinions. She made sure that her writing not only influenced, but also informed the reader.
While most of the pieces selected for the book deal with issues of women’s status and rights, there are several that cover urban problems. Many of the articles, written in the eighties or early nineties, are, perhaps, more relevant today.
Anis Haroon, one of the founder members of Women’s Action Forum like the late Najma, underscored the need for organising the movement for women’s emancipation. At present, she said, there was a predominant element of fear among the activists, and added that unless that gnawing fear of being intimidated by the inimical forces was not removed the movement could not progress, and there could be no civil society. “Issues are the same, but the complexion of the movement has changed,” she said and added that the government had yielded to the pressure of religious parties against a proposed amendment in the Blasphemy Law, but the human rights’ bodies did not raise any voice against government’s role.
lqbal Sultana, Abdul Hameed Chhapra, Hasan Abidi and Mujahid Barelvi in their speeches recalled their association with the late journalist and said that there were many memories and images of the late Najma.