I went to T2F straight from work, finding it jam-packed with all chairs occupied and people, mostly young, standing towards the back. I silently entered the rows and stood with my back towards the counter as I listened to Mama Qadeer, a Baloch nationalist whose son was killed some time ago by LEAs, reading from a paper in Urdu. It seemed like a long press release, about the state’s injustices to Baloch people and military’s heavy handedness on the locals.
I took out my phone, clicked a picture and shared with my friends on Facebook and WattsApp to show how crowded it was. After that I listened to the panelists and various topics they touched, from missing persons whose case was taken up by Supreme Court and nothing happened despite over a hundred hearings to long march consisting of 20 people. A 3000 km journey, starting from Press Club Quetta right up to Islamabad, after which still nothing came out except criminal silence from the government and complete ignorance by LEAs.
This was the 5th time trouble had stirred up in Balochistan. As the panelists highlighted, it started back in March 1948 when the sovereign status of Kalat and Balochistan (as agreed by Jinnah at the time of creation of Pakistan) was taken away that Baloch resistance began and it continues to stir every decade or so. People are not senseless or brainless to keep fighting, there must be some problems that led to first resistance, then second, and then third right up to fifth. Grievances, whatever they are, were not addressed and neither resolved, leading to Balochistan becoming a no-man’s land where multiple powers are trying to gain dominance.
Farzana Baloch talked about her endeavors to find her brother that was kidnapped by intelligence agencies. Mama Qadeer spoke at length about his missing son that turned up dead, all this while not knowing why he was taken away, what were his crimes and why wasn’t he punished through the courts. Mohammed Ali Talpur gave historical details of the events that started Baloch movement for self-governance and Pakistani state’s heavy handedness since (which includes borrowing helicopters from Iran to attack Baloch people). He maintained a clear stance, even during the Q&A session, that he wasn’t Pakistani.
Some interesting points were mentioned. For example, Mama Qadeer said that in a television program the anti-Baloch elements claimed Mama Qadeer was given 1 lac rupees for every kilometer he traveled. The journey was of 3000 kilometers that translate to 3 crore rupees. Mama Qadeer has photo copy of 5 crore rupee cheque that was given to him by Balochistan government which he returned after making a copy and said which figure is higher? 3 crores or 5 crores?
Mr. Talpur gave simple explanation. He said he is Baloch who is demanding his right of self-governance back that was agreed at the time of creation of Pakistan and taken away by force, subjugating the people through military. Baloch have history of centuries, Pakistan is a state that is barely 70 years old. Pakistan, as a nation, does not exist because it is a country created in the name of Islam and not because of the nations that existed within its borders. So how can those with centuries of history would forget their past and become a paste-less person for the sake of a country that doesn’t even own its own past of its creation?
Wusatullah Khan was vocal from media side since he works for BBC Urdu. He told about the challenges of media, where the only ones dare to write anything are English newspapers since they are not read by the masses. Urdu newspapers were so heavily censored during Zia that a sense of self-censorship emerged within media that works to this day and topics like Balochistan, MQM and missing people are unfavorable because they get owners into trouble. Then any negative topic about China and middle east countries (especially Saudi Arabia) is a BIG NO because there is no way they can handle the pressure that would come their way. Balochi language has become a taboo for written material because anything written in it is assumed to be by and for terrorists. Since the military can’t be bothered with keeping translators, they banned the use of local language altogether for literacy, education and media while promoting non-local languages including Urdu and English that can be controlled. Media desks in Balochistan do not forward news because doing so will get the media persons killed by one part or the other, and Press Club of Turbat seems to be empty for sometime now.
A short documentary was played about missing persons that was made in 2007, and I recalled seeing some of the clips. This was towards the end of Musharraf’s time when Chief Justice was dismissed and locked up by Musharraf on charges that were already proven false in court, and missing persons case was what lead to judicial crisis that nearly toppled the regime. One clip was of the plight of a mother whose husband was missing since long and she finally held demonstration in front of LEAs in Balochistan where his son was then arrested and dragged so inhumanly that his shalwar came off which was ripped out and he was thrown into the van like a grain sack in semi-nude condition, his mother and sister crying and screaming with no one of authority willing to listen.
The Q&A session followed including questions asked via emails and also by the audience. I believe most of these questions touched most subjects and the panelists answered them as well without reservation. One person from Hazara community also asked about why solidarity was not shown when for 5 days Hazaras kept dead bodies under rain in protest, to which Mama Qadeer gave response that the Baloch Nationalists were certainly there and so were Hazaras with Baloch Nationalists when Long March began.
After quite a few questions, and it was Sabeen Mahud (T2F founder and owner) who has handing the mic to the audience, I was the last to raise hand. Sabeen recognized me since we have interactions in the past during various events, both at T2F and outside, and she gave me the mic instantly.
My question was simple, why civilian institutions and governments couldn’t do anything about Baloch rights if military governments were so much repressive? Surprisingly, this was answered the longest. Mr. Talpur began that establishment and government authorities were on the same page regarding Baloch rights and when military decides, the civil authorities can’t do anything except follow. The case of Supreme Court was pointed out where after a hundred hearings, it is now pretty much in cold storage and no further progress being made in the case since neither court nor LEAs are interested in the case. After Mr. Talpur it was Mama Qadeer who spoke and he spoke from his heart, where he simply dismissed civilian governments completely. He gave multiple examples where, when civil governments tried to intervene, the military simply gave a shut up call. He started with the Long March where sitting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked them to meet. When the group demanded they will only meet if General Pasha, General Kiani and one member of international body will also be part of the meeting, PM simply said I don’t have power to do so. Similarly when Zardari was approached by one person to get his released and even paid 3 million, Zardari called General Pasha to release the person’s kid. He was simply told to mind his own business and few months later the dead body of the young man was found. Mama Qadeer gave multiple examples where people were told their missing relatives will turn up on Eid and instead dead bodies were found, later on clarifying that they never promised if they would be alive.
When the panel had spoken, the session was ended and everyone first clapped for panel and then for Sabeen Mahmud for her bravery to hold the session. Her smile is the last thing I remember, standing just inches away as she took in the applause and strode forward to talk to the panelists. I made my way out towards the car, noticing two people in Shalwar Kameez standing at the corner of the street, one in greyish white while another in light blue (drivers?) as I sat in my car and drove to home.
An hour later, Sabeen was shot dead after leaving from T2F and the news reached me after another two hours.
And Sabeen was silenced for unsilencing Balochistan!
P.S. Within hours after the session, Facebook and Twitter profiles of T2F (The Second Floor, the cultural establishment where the session was held) were closed down.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 47,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 17 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
OPEN Karachi held its 3rd Annual Conference on 20th December at CBM. The topic of the conference was “Economic Sustainability through Entrepreneurship” and was attended en mass by both students and industry professionals. Chairman TDAP, S.M. Munir, was chief guest of the conference who shared moving views on progress and development of Pakistan’s exports. President OPEN Karachi, Dr. Zakiuddin, spoke about OPEN platform and its performance in Pakistan with glimpses to upcoming chapters and events planned. Other speakers from the inaugration ceremony include Ronald Jonash from Hult Business School, Brian Heath from U.S Consulate Karachi, British Deputy High Commisioner to Pakistan Mr. John Anthony Tucknott, Co-founder of Online Healthcare Group Mr. Handre Dreyer, Amy Scerra from Think Global andMariam Ahmed and Eram Abbasi from OPEN. Several announcements including new collaborations and ventures were main focus of the ceremony. Notable industry people including President P@SHA Jehan Ara, CEO SoloTech Farhan Masood and Founder KITE Afaque Ahmed attended the event which was followed by student final year projects display and conference sessions on academia role in entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, women entrepreneurship and technopreneurship.
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw an update on Facebook. It said a Skype session has been arranged with Jeffrey Archer at Liberty Books BBQ Tonight branch and it is a great chance for his fans to talk to him directly. Soon I saw event page being shared on out The Readers Avenue group and decided to attend the session. Despite the fact that I was tired from office, air conditioner wasn’t functional and needed to be fixed and I was still in the middle of downloading the newly released Watch Dogs game, I managed to take out time and reached the venue on time.
One of the best decisions I ever made.
The session was lightly attended, the dreadful traffic probably kept a lot of people away and that took away some of the charm of the event. I met Afrah and marketing team of Liberty Books, a pleasant meeting since we have made acquaintance over the past few months and it felt nice to catch up. Jeffrey was online right at the time and I easily got front row seat for the session. Jamal moderated the session and after a short introduction he asked Jeffrey to talk about his writing experience.
Jeffrey was animated. He spoke clearly about his experience as a writer and how his life events and knowledge provided the necessary information for his novels. The audience, although not many, asked him varying questions from his ability to write for multiple genres to dealing with Writers Block. He answered all openly and often humorously, leading us to fits of laughter when he declared he his God gifted and doesn’t suffer from Writers Block and would write forever till he dies. Since most of the questions were general in nature, Jeffrey didn’t go into unnecessary details about his writing. He talked about how he is closer to his first novel ‘Not a Penny more, not a Penny less’ than his other novels since that was the first and how he loves to write, particularly since he is a best seller. In fact, since he has been best seller so many times is the reason he still goes on writing.
Also, he doesn’t type but write by hand. His recent book has gone through 9 drafts and all of them are handwritten. It’s an old habit that is still a part of him and can’t switch to typing so easily. His past experience as a politician has had a great impact on his writing. Since politics is what he understands best, his novels also surround such themes and he is particularly fond of his current series Clifton Chronicles. His advise to all budding writers is to write what they feel comfortable about and have knowledge. For example Jeffrey said he has no idea about Pakistan, so if he writes a story based on Pakistan it will be a bad story since he has no knowledge of the country. There will be those who tell you there is nothing in you to pass on through your stories so why write, but don’t give up and continue to write.
Jeffrey had plenty to offer in terms of advise to the new writers for both reading and writing. The session ended after 20 minutes of conversation where Jamal did his best to successfully maintain the flow of communication between Jeffrey and his fans. After a polite good bye, all participants were upbeat and are excited about participating more in future of event of such nature. And hopefully there will be a bigger crowd the next time such an event would take place.
OPEN Karachi held its first Annual Dinner at Creek Club on 2nd May and invited people from various walks of life to interact and connect with each other. The session was interesting to attend as I met various people, from teachers to entrepreneurs of all ages and it was a small but energetic gathering. Continue reading
Sometime ago I came to know about introduction of a fictional character from the stories I read in my childhood, Umru Ayyar, in comic book. The team behind Kachee Goliyan was gearing up to introduce this old-time shady/assassin/greedy/wily person as a hero in the comic world, and that came out as a surprise to me. True, Umru Ayyar as a character presents a lot of interpretations and its stories give so many angles to work on that it is possible re-introduce him in a whole different package. Still, more strong characters like Ameer Hamza (to whom Umru played a role of adviser as well as guardian assassin) could have been used for the comic book.
Nevertheless, something is better than nothing and therefor when I was invited for the soft launch of Umru Ayyar I tried my best to take out time and attend it at the new acquired office space by the KG team. Continue reading
SZABIST Karachi organized Pakistan’s first ever Hackathon where 100+ computing/IT students from 7 different institutes stayed at SZABIST for 3 days and attempted to automate the manual processes of Pakistan. SZABIST Karachi is the institute from where I completed by MBA degree specializing in Marketing and I am proud of their achievement. Following is the Press Release of the event.
[48Hour Hackathon] Press Release
IEEE-SZABIST Student Branch is a non-profitable student branch at SZABIST of the international organization IEEE, which works to promote technological and industrial market by organizing various seminars, conferences and workshop catering students from all over Karachi.
From the 22nd to the 24th of March 2013, IEEE-SSB (SZABIST Student Branch) organized a 48-Hour application development event, HACKATHON at SZABIST 154, Clifton, Karachi. This event provided a forum for the students of Pakistan to collectively come up with creative ideas and provide technological solutions to real life problems.
The theme that we selected for the HACKATHON this year was ‘To Automate Any Manual Process of Pakistan‘.
IEEE-SSB molded this event to fit best at national level. It was platform and technology independent; the teams comprised of 2-4 participants and were allowed to work on web, mobile or desktop applications. There were a total of 26 teams and overall 118 students that registered for the event from 7 different universities all over Pakistan (SZABIST, FAST-NUCES, University of Karachi, ISRA University Hyderabad, DHA-SUFFA, SSUET, MAJU) who stayed at SZABIST 154 Campus for 3days. Participants were provided with all the necessities to make their stay as comfortable as possible.
There were 3 judges that were there to evaluate the projects of the participants at the end of the third day. The judges were from renowned industries and well reputed personalities including Mr. Syed Asif Shah (CEO, IT Minds), Mr. Owais Sheikh (CTO, Lutebox), Mr. Amir Ali Jivani (CTO, Pi-Labs). The judges were very fair in their judgment and gave ample time to every team to explain their projects in detail.
At the end, all the participants were awarded with a certificate of participation. The top 3 teams, all from FAST-NUCES received shields and cash prizes i.e. the team that came in first position received Rs. 20000, the team that came in second position received Rs.10000 and the team in third position received Rs. 5000.
For accomplishing all expected objects we have with us ICT R&D Funds & KMC, Thank you everyone for everything.
Karachi Literature Festival concluded on Sunday, bringing a wonderfully spend weekend to a successful end. I haven’t had such a good time for three days straight in a long while and attending KLF was worth every minute (and penny, for food and books). Before I talk about KLF, I must talk about the upcoming Lahore Literary Festival which will be starting next week.
I was contacted by the team responsible for Lahore Literary Festival and asked if I could attend the event. I had to apologize because the event timing clashed with the CSS examinations. Last week they sent me a press release to be posted on my blog and I checked my emails after a week, thereby missing it completely. The text of the press release is as follows: Continue reading
As most people in Pakistan know, a long winded drama being played at Islamabad has come to an end with the most amazing anti-climax moments possible. Tahir Ul Qadri, founder of the NGO “Minhaj-Ul-Quran”, led a revolutionary march from Lahore to Islamabad that in itself costed a fortune to host and brought both life and economy of the country to a virtual standstill.
It is true that blaming the economic factor completely on Tahir Ul Qadri is unfair, simply because around the same time sit-ins in support of Shias killed in Quetta had sprung up throughout the country (I was sitting in a train when sit-in on tracks began and thus ended up missing both my chance to visit Lahore as well as the Table Tennis tournament I was suppose to play to represent my institution). But at the same time it did affected businesses in and around Islamabad as the city remained hostage to Tahir Ul Qadri’s sit-in.
A few days back I got a call from my friend Talha Shamsher. A new cafe was opening soon and they needed a blogger to attend the event. The invitation was initiated by Rimsha Malik who was also attending the initial meetup before the grand opening and had send it through Talha. I agreed and reached the venue right after finishing my evening exercise on 8th January.
Symmetry Group has brought some much needed success for Pakistan at the prestigious “Agency of the Year awards 2012″ that were recently held in Singapore. The Symmetry Group, comprising of Symmetry Digital, Creative Jin and Iris Digital, bagged 4 awards.
In the press conference held at Southend Club on February 2, 2013 the management presented details about the event and shared their success story. The “Agency of the Year” is a prestigious award that is well recognized internationally. Digital agencies from round the globe participate and there is a comprehensive screening process that ultimately leads to final selection. There are various categories, including a Pakistan specific sub-category within South Asia that was completely dominated by Symmetry Group. The group not just bagged all three awards from Pakistan category but was also awarded “South Asia Digital Agency of the Year”. Continue reading
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 43,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 10 Film Festivals
This is a short story I wrote after hearing how a person ruined his life by making wrong choices and not facing the pressures of life
The class had the usual hustle and bustle. Students sat chit chatting animatedly and gossiping, the girls about the latest fashion and TV dramas while the guys about recently concluded Football league. Ahmed entered and after a general hello to the class he headed towards his usual place beside Sehar and Alina.
“Thank God it’s Sir Ali’s class first, it won’t be a bad start of the day” He said as he fell into the chair.
“You stay up most night talking on phone. Stop doing that and all mornings will be fine” Alina said.
“Sorry, I am not a morning person” Ahmed muttered
“Whatever, at least Sir Ali will keep us awake” Sehar said
“Won’t affect me as I’ll fall asleep” Ahmed said with a smirk
“Stop taking advantage of his nature. He’s easygoing, doesn’t mean you piss him off as well” Alina said exasperatedly
“No need, I’ll just take him off-track again and doze off like before”
“He tells really good stuff, you should listen to him” Sehar said
Ahmed laughed. Alina thumped his head. Both girls knew he was not going to listen. The bell rang and as the class began to settle, the door opened and Sir Ali entered. Thin and tall, wearing rectangular spectacles and tidy hair, Sir Ali seemed calm and peaceful like always as he greeted the class and put his laptop on the table and turned it on. This was perhaps the only class in the university that never required memorizing events and dates in Pakistan Studies course, making it not just easy but interesting as well. The only reason why the whole class found Wednesday mornings refreshing compared to the rest of the week.
“Everyone enjoyed our 1965 War analysis from last week? I hope you guys made the necessary notes, you’ll probably need them for the next quiz” Sir Ali said said.
“Will you be asking us specific questions? I mean like names of battalions and squadrons and all that?” Nooria asked
“I explained that earlier as well. You all need to understand the event AND recall the right names. You can cover broadly but that may not result in better analysis” Sir Ali replied
“That means we will need to remember all the names of pilots of PAF as well? And their squadron numbers too?” Sajjad asked
“Those that matter and the ones we covered. For example, who was Sarfaraz Rafique and why a base has been named after him?” Sir Ali asked Continue reading
I received an email from Creative Jin on Saturday morning for an event at Expo Center at 7:30 pm. I was busy in the afternoon working on my thesis presentation that I emailed to university management around 3 pm. I had to attend a meeting at 6 pm after which I headed out for Expo Center and reached the venue on time to attend the launch of new branchless banking product from Zong and Askari Bank (pictures and video included towards the end).
The following article appeared in Dawn newspaper today (4/11/2012) and I am sharing it as it is for enlightenment. It provides a brief history of sectarian killings in Pakistan, most notably from Zia’s time when organized Sunni and Shia militant wings were formed and attacks were carried out on each other’s leaders as well as on general population.
by Syed Shoaib Hasan
To understand the genesis and growth of anti-Shia extremism, the claims of both Sunni and Shia leaders must be examined. Shia-Sunni violence in this region precedes Partition but its more recent form has other beginnings. Most analysts are convinced that the present problem is a product of the Pakistan’s security establishment enduring relationship with radical Sunni militancy. Continue reading
The issue of ethnic divide had been simmering beneath the surface for some time and SPLGO ordinance has once again brought it out to front. The divide has been there since the creation of Pakistan but came to prominence during the 80s and has now become the most violent factor that threatens innocent lives during peace as well as troubled times. This post is first of a series that will look at how this divide came into being and will start off with the introduction of once “Sindh’s Jinnah”, Saeen G. M. Syed. Continue reading
It is constantly repeated in history text books that separation of Sindh was result of All India Muslim League’s efforts. I am presenting a short chronology of the events that took place which eventually led to the separation of Sindh. These facts have been referenced from the book “Political Dynamics of Sindh: 1947 – 1977″ by Tanvir Ahmed Tahir.
It has been a sad week for Pakistan. The controversy surrounding the cheap and highly distasteful short film Innocence of Muslims has gotten out of hands and not just figuratively but literally. It started with protests over the internet from all over the world and then quickly translated to the physical world where street power was demonstrated in several countries. As a result, many people died during protests, most notable of them being the American Ambassador Chris Stevens who died in Libya.
In Pakistan, the protest that started from social media quickly translated to street power too and small-scale anti-American and anti-Jewish rallies were organized all over the country. Soon Youtube was blocked when movie and its trailer were not removed by Youtube. Pakistani government, in order to appease the sentiments of general public, declared September 21, 2012 as Ishq-E-Rasool (Love for the Prophet) day. The purpose was to honor the Prophet and counter the propaganda shown in the movie, only to see hell breaking loose all over the country. Continue reading
For years we have heard about Freemasons, Illuminati and whatnot conspiring against Pakistan along with Jews and Americans/Israelis and trying to destroy the country. This oft repeated mantra gave us a ‘hidden enemy’ to loathe for all the bad things happening in the country and remain ignorant of many facts that were concealed in plain sight.
In this modern age, the Freemason conspiracy is no longer needed to undermine Pakistan because Pakistan is rapidly becoming self-sufficient in creating its own brand of Freemasons and Illuminati. Continue reading