Thursday, December 11, 2008

Missed chances and upcoming opportunities

Had a chance to meet with Badar Khushnood from Google after his speech on online entrepreneurship opportunities such as writing a blog, a website such as Danka ( and from that meeting i have come to the conclusion that it is imperative that i make this blog specific to some kind of information. Make it a sort of hub of information and updates for whatever topic i choose.

Although i have been lazy with entries on my blog, a lot of that owing to the strenuous time constraints put up by the MBA program at LUMS, i do intend to choose a topic and stick to it once i can be more regular with my blog entries. Hence, the next few months may not see much activity on this blog but come May, 2009 and i will be back with a bang and with a hunger to make this blog more popular and more successful.

The stats show i have been getting a regular stream of visitors who mostly browse through the main page, thank you guys for persisting and visiting the webpage, soon you'll have more to see on the site.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Malnutrition and the world's lack of interest

10,000 PEOPLE DIE EVERY DAY DUE TO MALNUTRITION! how bad was your day!

IMF Loan

Pakistan seems to be headed into deep financial turmoil. Thanks mainly to inept and spendthrift leadership and a faulty taxation system. The forex reserves have fallen abysmally low (only covering about 2 months of imports). To safeguard the country from default urgent cash is required.

Since the so-called 'friends of Pakistan' have not stepped in to help and we have saturated all demand to give loan to Pakistan by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and DFID, the IMF is the last resort.

But under the agreement under discussion Pakistan will have to bend over backwards to say the least. The $9.6 billion loan comes at a markup of 16.7% and has many other conditions attached, such as disclosing all loan information, cutting the defense budget by 30%, decreasing pensioners, agriculture tax imposition, PKR 50 billion increase in taxation, strong role of IMF in making the financial budget and lots of other controls. This is tantamount to selling the ownership of the country. What is going to happen to this country if agreements like this go through is anybody's guess.
Life is beautiful but it surely does not seem like it at the moment atleast not if you're in Pakistan.

Friday, October 17, 2008

quotes of my own

There is a term applied to certain times in your day to day life when everything becomes clear and all the whole world seems to make sense. These are referred to as 'moments of clarity'. For some this happens when you've smoked up a bit or after a heavy discussion after a couple of drinks, or after not having had sleep for some time, or having gone without food for more than a few hours, or after somebody or someone has made you feel extremely happy! Usually such moments of clarity go to waste since no effort is made to put them down on paper or their value not truly understood by those lucky enough to witness such moments. I have personally had such moments and though most have been forgotten some were luckily preserved by some coincidence or the other. Here are a few of those thoughts that came during certain 'moments of clarity'

Capitalism vs Social Business: In a world of diminishing resources and a burgeoning population, it is vital to help society meet its needs rather than work on creating 'wants' that the world does not need.

The seed of selfishness and greed planted in our hearts by capitalism inhibit our desire to help the poor.

Money: No one on death bed wishes they'd made more money

Wants and Needs: The inability to differentiate between wants and needs is the cause of all our headaches

....more shall be added as they become clearer! ;-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Imran Khan - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf - Sasta Tandoor

One of Pakistans true heroes and a genuine products of the limited democracy Pakistan has had, is Imran Khan. His rise to fame was via guiding Pakistan to success in the 1992 World Cup of cricket. He was instantly a mega hero, a position he used to launch a large scale cancer hospital which charges customer only what they can afford and which in many cases is nothing.

Since then he has moved on to form a political party whose primary objective is justice and service to the underprivileged, something which is badly needed in the country. Considering the recent price hike and incredulous inflation rates hitting the country his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI), came up with a bold new strategy to serve people of low incomes basic food items such a roti (commonly eaten, kinda bread) at a very reduced rate of PKR 2, thats about 3 cents.

This is a really good offer and provides wondrous relief to the poor. He plans to start this scheme, the Sasta Tandoor, all over the country and seeks support. More information can be had via videos such as Donations can be made via the following information.

Bank: Muslim Commercial Bank
Account # 1000701
Routing #: 027470763

Suicide Bombings

It has been argued for a while why religious scholars do not openly condemn the suicide bombings and somehow 'justify' to an extent these actions by giving the argument that there is no other option left for those oppressed.

A couple of days ago, however, the Muttehadda Ulema Council, which is a major group of religious scholars, declared via a unanimous decree (fatwa) that suicide bombings are unlawful (haram) which is in my mind one of the first times that a significant religious body has come out so blatantly against it. I hope there is more to come in this regard and rather than keeping hush about it signifying it as an unwritten rule, it should be properly and emphatically criticized by those in control.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Muhammad Yunus - Social Business

I recently read a great book by Nobel Award winner Muhammad Yunus from Grameen Bank fame - 'Creating a world without poverty'. I wrote a short summary of some of the main parts. This is after having read about 2/3rd's of the book.
A fabulous book about ‘Social Business’ – the business with a goal to help the poor.

He explains the problems inherent in the corporate for-profit companies that are all around us. He terms them as Profit-Making Businesses (PMB) and the problem with them is that their only concern is profit making, where every action is considered actionable only on the basis of how it affects the bottom line. History has shown that such businesses are good only for the rich and not the poor. Income and wealth inequalities are only increasing due to the way these businesses are and hence that is why poverty has increased so much. The fact that 94% of the worlds income goes to 40% of the people is testament to the fact. So how do we go about fixing the poverty issue which affects such a large portion of the world’s population?

Well, there are a few systems/mechanisms in place but they are mostly inadequate to meet those requirements. There is the government, but it us usually too slow, corrupt and inefficient in most underdeveloped countries (where most poverty afflicted people live) and hence the government is unable to deliver. We have non-profit organizations which do a lot to help the poor but the biggest problem with them is that they rely on constant donor support and when that support falls down due to donor fatigue or any other factor, the work of these organizations comes to a halt. Then there are the ‘multilateral institutions’ the World bank, the IMF etc but they only look at GDP as the way to growth, whether or not that helps the poor is not their concern, so their support and work has not helped the poor people at all. (Read John Perkins – Confessions of an economic hit man for more facts about these institutions). Then there are the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) teams of the PMB but they are designed to do things only if it helps them so they will squeeze out as much as they can from the people and then give back a small percentage of that to give back. It all goes back to differing focus on profit rather than social benefit. Social Business takes the positives from these systems but changes the goal so that it helps those that need the help.

Then Yunus talks about his Grameen Bank initiative which came about when he realized that poor people are neglected by the financial services of regular banks because they are deemed to be too risky an investment and they have no collateral and the world considers helping the poor by creating jobs when the fact is that the poor are far better off when they are given reasonable opening to grow via financial opportunities to start their own businesses. Hence, he starts of by giving loans to the poor via a banking system customized to the needs of the poor. The loans are given at much lower rates than what the money lenders in the localities give the loans (20-30% vs 100-250%). The loans are given to the women mostly since research and observations have shown they are more likely to spend the funds on family and business rather than on themselves. The results of his ‘microcredit‘ system are unbelievable as he gets 98% returns on loans which the banks think is not likely to be sustained but it has been for over 20 years. Of those borrowers who have part of the microcredit system over 60% have now risen out of poverty. Now over 100 million families worldwide have been assisted with this method and the target for 2012 is 175 million families. It has not been without hiccups but the system has been transformed to fit the needs and requirements. The system has been copied all around the world with similar results where poverty has been heavily reduced.

Essentially the way a social business runs is that investors/donors contribute funds to a business whose primary objective is to help in social uplift of poverty stricken people. Such a business has to be constructed in such a way that it is not charity or aid given to the people rather good and services are brought to the people at lower rates than market rates. So there is a return on the capital investment. Hence such a business will return the invested capital back to the donors and from then on will bring returns further on and become sustainable. The organization will hopefully keep generating profits which can be used to expand the business or in a slight variation of the above social business type act as PMB and give returns to the target market which will also be the owners of the business. Obviously the design of such a business is not easy and many ideas are bound to fail (just like in the free market) but there will be successes which will help a lot of people come out of poverty. He also differentiates social business from social entrepreneurship which is a very broad concept which encompasses social business as well as for profit, non profit and other variations which help the poor.

Currently the Grameen Family of businesses consists of 26 diverse social initiatives all directed towards assisting the poor in getting out of poverty. These are Grameen Bank, the Grameen Trust, Grameen Krishi (Agriculture) Foundation, Grameen Uddog (Enterprize), Grameen Fund, Grameen Fisheries and Livestock Foundation, Grameen Telecom, Grameen Shamogree (products), Grameen Cybernet, Grameen Energy, Grameen Phone, Grameen Welfare, Grameen Education, Grameen Communication, Grameen Knitwear, Grameen Capital Management, Grameen Solutions, Grameen IT Park, Grameen Business Promotion, Grameen Information Highway, Grameen Star Education, Grameen Bitek, Grameen Healthcare Trust, Grameen Health and Grameen Danone. Some have been successful some have been not but they continue tweaking the businesses to get them to work.

The success of the Grameen Family of businesses can be estimated from the following facts about Bangladesh.

─ The poverty rate has fallen from 74% in 1973 to 57% in 1992 and 40% in 2005
─ Gini Index measuring inequality has remained virtually unchanged despite high growth
─ Population growth curtailed to 1.5% in 2000 from 3% in 1970
─ Life expectancy increased from 56 to 65

Another impressive and interesting fact is how poverty is defined. Although there are over 33 definitions of poverty worldwide, the way it is described here is very unique where rather than focusing on $1 income/day etc it is defined by 10 points that need to be met to be a poverty free family. These give a much more identifiable and clearer picture of their living standards.

The family lives in a tin-roofed house worth >= $370. Sleep on cots not the floor
Drink pure water from tube wells or boiled water, or purified arsenic free water
Able bodied children of age 6 should have attended or be attending primary school
Monthly loan repayment installment is >= $3
Use hygienic and sanitary latrine
Sufficient clothing including clothes, blankets and mosquito nets.
Additional source of income for emergencies
Savings account >= $75
Ability to feed three meals a day throughout the year
Conscious about health, can take action and pay for medical expenses.

He identifies that the best way to start supporting a poor community is with credit, all other systems such as education, health etc as important as they are need to follow afterwards. He once again clarifies that charity is not the answer. The way to go is the formation of a ‘sustainable’, ‘no loss’, ‘no dividend’ social business. He goes into details of how, if south Asian countries formed alliance and did trade could be able to overcome poverty to a large extent and be able to develop economies as well.

The whole heart warming process of creation of the Grameen Danone business is explained in intricate detail including the results it achieved and the benefits it caused not just to the poor target population but to the large $16 billion corporation in terms of a feeling of helping others which Yunus feels resides in every human.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

the world and my views

things are just happening so quickly..its hard to keep up. the US senate and house of reps has approved the bailout plan which i feel is not right without putting regulations on these financial orgs first. this is like giving them a ticket to do whatever u want...and knowing that if things go wrong the govt will save u again because the economy cant survive without u. its a signed check to the financial institutes to party on.

the US elections are getting nearer and i really enjoyed the palin-biden debate. surprised by her actually. she seemed very disappointing in earlier interviews. but she came out pretty strong in the debate..lets see how the presedential debate goes. its all exciting stuff but the truth is, either way it doesnt matter. the presidency is really just a showpiece to the public the real decisions are made by think tanks and advisors and elsewere...but it is nice to follow.

as for pakistan, the corrupt offiicials in power, all elected as part of the democratic process, are robbing the nation of all that is left. it is pretty sad. many friends and family are leaving for more promising jobs abroad. its realy very sad. its times like these i prefer to have a fatalistic attitude and try not to think or worry too much about whats going on.

im nearing the end of my mba program and wondering what path to take as far as much job is concerned. i hope i wont have to bow down and go the way of the multinationals (mnc's) that would be the truly sad. i'd prefer working for a social sector organization and work towards fixing something in this nation where everything seems to be broken.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Abdul Sattar Edhi

The lums student body had the privilege of having renowned philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi come to LUMS and talk about his extensive work experience and give advice on how we can contribute to the betterment of those around us.

Edhi is now approaching 80 years of age, he has done so much for the community despite very modest beginnings. That is why he has become a renowned and trusted name all across the country and to whom people give in complete trust. Under his leadership the worlds largest volunteer run ambulance service of over 160 ambulances provides services all across Pakistan.

His speech on the day was quite strong and direct. He made no qualms on describing the business world being full of hypocrites and greedy people who did not care about the right if the fellow beings rather focused only on their own selfish desires. The bad part about the audience was that we were all MBA students and sadly perhaps none of us will be joining the social sector and such endearing personalities will be forced to work with workers who have minimal education and have found no other place to work.

Edhi is one of the biggest heroes for me. I hope more people follow in his footsteps and as per his suggestions/insight set up community centers which help support their localities. wait..isn't that what mosques are supposed to do?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pakistan's Paralymics Medalist, 2008

Pakistan had a horrible showing at the Beijing Olympics 2008. We failed to come close to, let along win a medal during the games. Something, our highly paid sports bodies need to have a close look at and be shameful of the next time they go scandulously extravagant vacations and trips all paid for by the tax payer.

But we did have something to be happy about at the Paralympics also held in Beijing soon after the Olympics were over and the reason for that happiness was Haider Ali, an athletic who suffers from Cerebral Palsy made his country proud when he won a Silver Medal for his feat at the long jump competition on 9 Sept at the Beijing Paralymics.

His endeavour though, equal to that of the Gold Medal winner, a Tunisian, who ran the same distance that of 6.44 meters, Haider was chosen as the runner up as he was rejected for one of his five jumps during the preliminary rounds. But nonetheless, he managed to do what many his able-bodied counterparts couldn’t achieve just a few weeks prior to his competion – win a Olympics Medal at Beijing.

However, the saddest part is that unlike the other sports persons, there is no annoucement till date from either the Pakistani Olympic sporting bodies or the Government regarding any prize money for our hero. If he had been a cricker or from any other sport, or even a able-bodied olympic athlete, he would by now had been showered with enough accolades and money to last him a life-time. But being an optimist, I can only assume that the great news hasn’t yet reached among those at the higher echelons of power.

Picture and text courtesy of

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ignorance is bliss!

I'm tired and fatigued from watching, hearing, talking and discussing the updates on the deadly bombing by (only god knows who) yesterday. so instead of talking about the obvious, ill post about something totally off topic. A few day ago i was hanging out with some friends in the LUMS boys dorm. It was a nice chill out since some of these guys have gone for a study abroad program. So here are the pics...enjoy!

Talha, Muneeb, Fazal & Numair
Fazal, Abid & Fahad
Omer, Khawaja and Shoaib
Me and Zeeshan

Thursday, September 18, 2008

12 year old invents efficient solar cell

As full this planet has become with does not take long before you hear positive news coming in from some end ot ther other. Humans have survived by adapting to all kinds of changes that have come about in the world and its stories like these that makes one think...that the possibilities of sustainable living is very doable if we put our minds to it.

12 Year Old Boy Invents New Type of Solar Cell

William Yuan’s 3D cell can absorb both visible and UV light. According to his calculations, solar panels equipped with his 3D cells could provide 500 times more light absorption than current commercial solar cells and nine times more light than existing 3D solar cells.

Yuan received a well-deserved $25,000 scholarship for his research. The next step? Getting his invention to market. Of course, the viability of his solar cells will ultimately depend on their cost efficiency—but Yuan has his whole life ahead of him to work on that.

In his project, “A Highly-Efficient 3-Dimensional Nanotube Solar Cell for Visible and UV Light,” William invented a novel solar panel that enables light absorption from visible to ultraviolet light. He designed carbon nanotubes to overcome the barriers of electron movement, doubling the light-electricity conversion efficiency. William also developed a model for solar towers and a computer program to simulate and optimize the tower parameters. His optimized design provides 500 times more light absorption than commercially-available solar cells and nine times more than the cutting-edge, threedimensional solar cell.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Crisis, Crisis Crisis!

The world around us seems to be going through a lot right now. Pakistan is at the center of many of these stories but some of even bigger significance are also there. Here is a snapshot of some of the biggest stories hitting the headlines. I know there is a lot more than just this...Thailand PM, US election campaigns but these are some of the really shocking ones.

US on the border - Pakistan for once holds firm
The US has been intruding into Pakistan territory on an almost daily basis for the past few days and finally the Army took a strong stance and instead of just saying we regret and condemn these incursions has issued an open threat that the armed forces will open fire on any US intrusions into Pakistan Territory.

India stop water flows
India has once again stopped water flows into Pakistan and the government has lodged the 6th protest in the past 2 months against the act which is against the Indus Water Treaty of 1960. Pakistan will suffer immensely due to the timing of the stoppage as it is time for wheat cultivation.

Lehman Brothers collapses
Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and AIG saved by US Government takeovers
George Soros thinks this is just the start of a financial crisis which he even related to the big depression of the 30's. This could well be the start of a nightmare for global economies. The ramifications of which could last for years if not longer.

Milk powder for babies in China tainted with chemicals
Several thousand babies are sick with atleast three deaths due to the addition of a toxic chemical melamine to make the milk appear higher in protien content. All for a little more money, endangering lives is okay. Don't you just love capitalism!!

Carla Bruni (Mrs. Sarkozy) is singing with Metallica
What a charming woman! She has impressed world leaders not as much by her looks but moreso due to her understanding of political realities that France faces. A model, singer, musician, and the first lady. She is the 'complete package'!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Nothing to cheer one up other than a bit of humor...that too with pics!!!

second hand smoke...ruthless!!

talk about a useless pic

the concept prevails in the animal kingdom too.

we keep it simple


Noah's Ark: The woodpecker has gotta go
hehe!uh oh...striking resemblance there!

It's so obvious!
err..excuse me!

the universal treaty

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fatigued rant!

Its monday and it seems its been a long week already. That has a lot to do with the fact that at LUMS we had a Written Analysis of a Case (WAC) last weekend for which i was up all of saturday night studying. It was for our project management course and a case on A&D Hight Tech going into the online retail business.

A few hours of sleep later i was getting ready for the Mensa exam which i am hopeful to pass and become a member of MENSA. :) Fingers crossed, lets see. Soon after the exam, it was time for an iftaar dinner and some chilling with friends before getting back to more studying. :(

Another full day of classes today and more studying through the rest of the week including 5 '90-minute' classes in a row starting at 8 am on Thursday and to top it all of there are classes on Saturday as well. So its going to be a hectic routine this week as well. No chance of catching up on my 'To-do' list anytime soon.

Plus, ramadan is half way through and the body begins to weaken just a little especially due to the extra strain of limited sleep. I sound like i'm living in prison but really the way they want us to work for an MBA degree..its almost like forced or slave labor. ;) Okay enough for now...gotta get back to my readings again!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sahiwal visit

There is a lot to see in Punjab and i have been fortunate enough to travel to quite a few places in the province, though i do wish to see some more places. Recently, i visited Sahiwal, a town 100 km south of Lahore which was a small village called Montgomery after some Britisher before being named Sahiwal in 1966.
My ancestral village from my paternal side is located about 15 km from Sahiwal near a small village, Nurpur. It actually lies in Pakpattan district but is actually closer to Sahiwal city. We have some farmland there and since we have leased it out to local farmers we do not make it down there more often than a few times a year. It is indeed a very relaxing retreat away from the crowded city and a chance to breathe in some fresh air and enjoy some nature.

It is also where my ancestors are picture are my grandmother and my great grandfather...just behind their graves is the grave of my great great great grand father. The local village is named after him and is called 'Chak Jaffer Shah'. As i stood there laying petals on my forefathers graves, and praying for thier souls and asking them to guide us, when we need it the word of our professor Imran Ali hit me, am i still stuck in the old custom of glorifying the dead, am i part of the whole shrine culture that he taught us to frown upon. The thought became increasingly worrisome when i visited the shrine of Pir Shakar Ganj who is regarded a very devout person in his time. The question still remain unanswered.
The barren field where Tobacco had been planted is empty for a short while before potato cultivation begins. In the picture below the truckloads of tobacco that had been farmed lies waiting for the right time before it is sold in the market. A hookah, an instrument used by locals to smoke can also be seen.

A nearby field where the rice crop has been cultivated adds a vibrant green color to the landscape. A few more weeks left before this crop is ready.

Right next to our house, is this small farm where we grow different fruits such as oranges, pomegranates etc. It was just a short one day trip but a nice change from the hecticity of living in a big city. I look forward to the next time i can make a getaway and relax in a more serence environment.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Radio @ LUMS

One of the advantages of living in a free country, is the ability to freely exercise the option of expressing thoughts and ideas publicly. It is something that is not truly valued until you lose that freedom. One of the local television channels, Geo ( realized that when they were banned by the then President, Pervez Musharraf. Due to public pressure he had to put them back air after a few months or so. Since most of us do not realize the power and value of this freedom we fail to properly utilize it. One way in which i have used that potential is to write this blog. I'm really happy with the fact that viewers from across the globe have been reading the blog. From Japan, to Brazil, Iceland to Malaysia and dozens of places in between people have read my views and commented on them. I find this connection with people from elsewhere really valuable and enlightening for both parties.

Another way i have been doing so is by going on radio and expressing my views via the airwaves. For this i have had the advantage of using the online radio service run by students at LUMS via the URL ( Available for access from anywhere in the world but mostly accessed by LUMS students on campus, it gives me the chance to speak on whatever issue i feel need to be pointed out. Listeners can actively participate by chatting with the host and other listeners, send messages and requests to the host of the show or even by calling in from the website itself.

It really is a fascinating experience and even though there are usually a handful of listeners on the show, its good to make ones thoughts public and any opposition and difference in opinion be tolerated. Nothing compels the mind to think harder than organized and regulated discussion. For those of you interested in listening in, we do the show for an hour every Monday at 4 pm GMT (10 PM Pakistan Standard Time). Once again, the URL is ( Hope to have you listening in soon!

Monday, September 8, 2008

US Transgressions

Another day and another attack by US forces on Pakistan territory. Sure, they attacked a possible hideout for a terrorist but conceptually and principally this is completely uncalled for. And then they ask, 'but why do you hate us'. I wonder what Americans might think if one day Canadian troops entered and destroyed any place in the US. It's just unthinkable, isn't it? Yet the US does it all the time. You have to remember, you only get what you give.

US drones 'bomb Pakistan target'
At least 11 people have been killed and 15 injured in a suspected US missile strike in Pakistan's border region, witnesses and officials say. Suspected aerial drones bombed a house and seminary linked to Taliban commander Jalaludin Haqqani. Pakistan's army confirmed an explosion in the North Waziristan tribal area. It would be the fourth cross-border attack in less than a week allegedly carried out by US forces, who have not officially confirmed their involvement. This follows persistent US accusations that Pakistan is not doing enough to eliminate Taliban and al-Qaeda sanctuaries in the border region. The upsurge in strikes has alarmed Pakistani military and government officials, who say it seriously undermines their counter-insurgency operations
Bodies Villagers say unmanned US aircraft fired several missiles at a house and an Islamic seminary in the tribal area of North

Haqqani and Sirajuddin were in Afghanistan at the time of the attack - they are alive Badruddin Haqqani Officials and witnesses say the complex was hit a number of times. "There were two drones and they fired three missiles," an unnamed resident of Dandi Darpakheil, a village near Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan, told Reuters news agency. Other reports speak of three drones. Some reports say the death toll could be as high as 20. Casualties include militants, as well as a number of civilians.

Security officials say that the house belonged to Jalaludin Haqqani, a veteran Afghan Taleban commander said to have close links to Osama Bin Laden. Mr Haqqani and his son, Sirajuddin, who is also a Taliban commander, were not at home, another son, Badruddin, told Reuters by telephone. Badruddin Haqqani said one of his aunts had been killed in the raid, and that women and children were among those who had been hurt. The BBC's M Ilyas Khan says the residential-cum-seminary complex has been raided a number of times by the Pakistani army, and hit by aerial attacks from across the border with Afghanistan. Mr Haqqani has maintained the complex since 1980 and family, clansmen and militants still use the premises, our correspondent says. Our correspondent says militants immediately cordoned off the entire area and shifted bodies dug up from the debris elsewhere. Officials in Miranshah say they still do not have evidence that any high-value target may have been hit.

Rising tensions
In recent months, US forces based in Afghanistan have been accused of stepping up attacks against suspected Taliban targets over the border in Pakistan's tribal region. Last week Pakistan condemned an alleged raid by foreign troops based in Afghanistan, which officials say killed at least 15 villagers in South Waziristan. In the same week, at least 10 people were killed in two suspected US missile strikes on alleged militant targets in North Waziristan. Pakistan's army has warned that such direct US action could rally more tribesmen behind the Taliban and incite a wider uprising, our correspondent says.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Pakistan - Uncertainties ahead

We have a new president now. President Zardari has been elected with due process. He has been able to out maneuver his rivals. He has been able to successfully remove a military dictator who had been ruling for over 8 years and was adamant to stay in power. He says he is systematically moving towards solving the problems faced by Pakistan one by one. According to him, next on his agenda is to accurately classify what the powers of the President are and curtail them in favor of the parliament. This would involve limiting or absolutely taking away Article 72B from the constitution which gives the President powers over the parliament.

He also talks about resolving the issue of the judges sacked by the military president General (retd) Musharraf. According to the sacked judges who, lead by the deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary, have been leading a monumental lawyers movement against his sacking, the current Chief Justice Dogar is illegitimately put into place and Iftikhar is the real Chief Justice and needs to be brought back to his justified position.

Meanwhile, some of the judges from the movement, who were supporters of the PPP and Mr Zardari have been backing out of their commitments with the movement and have been taking a renewed oath under the new chief justice and hence damaging the movement badly. About 12 judges have so far done so. But the ones who have not 'sold their souls' are standing tall and are adamant that one day justice will be served to those who are to deliver justice.

Some of the issues the President has yet to speak upon are the numerous security issues. Not only do we have a mammoth problem with the Taliban operating in the NWFP and are having regular skirmishes with the security forces and causing horrendous suicide bombings against innocent civilians and the government is only responding back with force and all efforts of negotiations and reasoning have so far failed. So that's really something he needs to work on. The other problem is of the sanctity of the Pakistan Afghanistan border. The Coalition forces, headed by the US have recently ventured miles into Pakistan territory and actually attacked and in at least one case killed civilians. This is an act of war and the most the government has done is condemn the action and summon the American ambassador and inform him of their anger at it.

Another major issue is the dismal economic condition we face today. There has been rampant inflation earlier in the year. Prices of daily use items have sky rocketed making it extremely difficult for the common man to make ends meet. Much of this has been due to rising oil prices, which has happened worldwide but more so in Pakistan as the IMF has forced the government to remove subsidies on oil and let the populace feel the pressure so that the government can make some of its debt payments. The country's foreign reserves have fallen drastically low due to capital flight as people are very insecure about the government. IMF and World Bank want to step in with more loans so that in the future, they can completely dictate how our government is run. Added to that is the major power shortages the country faces. We have had very high growth in recent years which has resulted in major demands for power. Currently, we face a 4500MW power shortage which needs to be dealt with very soon.

So we see that the President really has his hands full and if he can somehow deliver on most if not all of these issues, i for one, am willing to completely absolve him of all his wrong doings in the past. I am not sure what lies ahead for this country. All i know is, i am here and I'm here to stay, so i hope the future is brighter than the present.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

President Zardari

Pakistan will have a new president on the 6th of September. Chances are that Asif Zardari will be selected. Despite the fact that he is well known to be extremely corrupt and his property list is extremely lengthy. It goes something as follows:
Agricultural land in Deh 51 Dad Taluka, Nawabshah.
Plot No three and four Sikni (Residential) Near Housing Society Ltd, Nawabshah.
Café Sheraz (CS No 2231/2 and 2231/3), Nawabshah.
Agricultural land in Deh 23-Deh Taluka and Nawabshah.
Agricultural land in Deh 72-A, Nusrat Taluka, Nawabshah.
Agricultural land in Deh 76-Nusrat Taluka, Nawabshah.
Plot No A/136 Survey No 2346 Ward A Government Employees Cooperative Housing Society Ltd, Nawabshah.
Agricultural land in Deh Jaryoon, Tando Allah Yar, Hyderabad.
Agricultural land in Deh Aroro, Tando Allah Yar.
Agricultural land in Deh Nondani, Tando Allah Yar.
Agricultural land in Deh Lotko, Tando Allah Yar.
Agricultural land in Deh Jhol, Tando Allah Yar.
Agricultural land in Deh Kandari, Tando Allah Yar.
Agricultural land in Deh Deghi, Tando Mohammad Khan, Hyderabad.
Agricultural land in Deh Rahooki, Hyderabad.
Property in Deh Charo Taluka, Badin.
Agricultural property in Deh Dali Wadi Taluka, Hyderabad.
Five areas prime land allotted by DGKDA in 1995/96
4,000 Kanals on Simli Dam
80 acres of land at Hawkes Bay
13 acres of land at Maj Gulradi (KPT land).
One acre plot, GCI, Clifton.
One acre of land, State life (International Centre, Sadar).

Sakrand Sugar Mills, Nawabshah.
Ansari Sugar Mills, Hyderabad.
Mirza Sugar Mills, Badin.
Pangrio Sugar Mills, Thatta.
Bachani Sugar Mills, Sanghar.
FEBCs worth Rs 4,000,000.

Foreign Assets (Front Companies):
Bomer Finance Inc, British Virgin Islands.
Mariston Securities Inc, British Virgin Island.
Marleton Business SA, British Virgin Islands.
Capricorn Trading SA, British Virgin Islands.
Fagarita Consulting Inc, British Virgin Islands.
Marvil Associated Inc, British Virgin Islands.
Pwnbury Finance Ltd, British Virgin Islands.
Oxton Trading Ltd, British Virgin Islands.
Brinslen Invest SA, British Virgin Islands.
Chimitex Holding SA, British Virgin Islands.
Elkins Holding S. A. British Virgin Islands.
Minister Invest Ltd, British Virgin Islands.
Silvernut Investments Inc, British Virgin Islands.
Tacolen Investment Ltd, British Virgin Islands.
Marlcrdon Invest SA, British Virgin Islands.
Dustan Trading Inc, British Virgin Islands.
Reconstruction and Development Finance Inc, British Virgin Islands.
Nassam Alexander Inc.
Westminster Securities Inc.
Lapworth Investment Inc, 202 Saint Martin Drive, West Jacksonville.
Intra Foods Inc, 376 Lomrel Grove, Jacksonville, Florida.
Dynatel Trading Co, Florida.
AS Realty Inc, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Bon Voyage Travel Consultancy.

Properties in UK:
Rockwood Estate, Haslemere Road, Surrey.
Flat 6, 11 Queens gate Terrace, London SW7.
26 Palace Mansions, Hammersmith Road, London W14.
27 Pont Street London SW1.
20 Wilton Cresent London SW1.
23 Lord Chancellor Walk, Coombe Hill, Kingston, Surrey KT2 7 AG.
The Mansion, Warren Lane, West Hampstead, London NW6.

Properties in Belgium:
12-3 Boulevard De-Nieuport, 1000, Brussels (building containing 4 shops and 2 large apartments).
Cauisee De-mons, 1670 Brussels.

Properties in US (In Zardari's name and managed by Shimmy Qureshi):
Stud farm in Texas.
Wellington Club East.
West Palm Beach, 12165 West Forest Hills, Florida.
Escue Farm 13524 India Mound, West Palm Beach, Florida.
3220 Santa Barba Drive, Wellington Florida.
13254 Polo Club Road, West Palm Beach, Florida.
3000 North Ocean Drive, Singer Islands, Florida.
525 South Flager Drive, West Palm Beach, Florida.
Holiday Inn Huston (Owned by Asif Ali Zardari, Iqbal Memon and Sadaruddin Hashwani).

Bank Accounts:
Union Bank of Switzerland (Account No.552.343, 257.556.60Q, 433. 142.60V, 216.393.60T).
Citibank Private Limited (SWZ) (Account No.342034).
Citibank NA Dubai (Account No.818097).
Barclays Bank (SUISE) (Account No.62290209).
Barclays Bank (SUISEE) (Account No.62274400).
Banque Centrade Ormard Burrus SA.
Banque Pache SA.
Banque Pictet & Cie.
Banque La Henin, Paris (Account No.00101953552).
Bank Natinede Paris in Geneva (Account No.563.726.9).
Swiss Bank Corporation.
Chase Manhattan Bank Switzerland.
American Express Bank Switzerland
Societe De Banque Swissee.
Barclays Bank (Knightsbridge Branch) (Account No.90991473).
Barclays Bank (Kingston and Chelsea Branch) (Sort Code 20-47-34135).
National Westminster Bank (Alwych Branch (A/C No.96832320).
Harrods Bank Limited (A/c No.11309063).
Midland Bank (Pall Mall Branch).
National Westminster Bank, Barking Branch (A/C No.28559899).
Habib Bank AG, Moorgate, London EC2.
National Westminster Bank, Edgware Road London W2.
Banque Financiei e Dela Citee.
Crdit Suisse.
Habib Bank AG Zurich, Switzerland.
Pictet Et Cie, Geneva.
Credit Agricole, Paris.
Credit Agridolf, Branch 11, Place Brevier. 76440, Forges Les Faux.
Credit Agricole, Branch Haute – Normandie, 76230, Boise Chillaume

Despite him having such extensive array of property and assets, and how he was capable of getting them being totally unknown, we can not have any legal doubts against him being elected as President. He is totally legit as per the laws of the land and just as importantly he is the democratically elected leader of the country.

Those who have any doubts should know that there the Constitution of Pakistan has a very clear method for the President selection. The National Assembly, the provincial assemblies, and the Senate form the electoral college for the president selection. Whichever candidate get a majority of votes in the electoral college is declared president. Zardari is from the PPP which is the majority party and as we shall see has the support of a major portion of those eligible to vote.
Sadly, all cases of corruption. murder and malpractice which were to be against him have been dropped by an illegal judicial system. So his legality is under no doubt. What is most important is what his actions will be when the country is in such dire straits. The economy is in doldrums, the security situation is terrible with the US doing ground incursions well into the country and even commiting war crimes and killing civilians, there is a huge energy crisis, as well as a food crisis, inflation is out of control, we shall just wait and see if he can do anything or the poor shall continue suffering.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Ramadan, the word itself means intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of rations. So it makes sense that this is the month that muslims all across the world make the sacrifice of not eating, drinking or having sex during the entire day from sunrise to sunset.

It gets particularly difficult during the longer, warmer summer days. The Islamic Calendar as it is based on lunar movements is 10 days shorter than the Western Calendar we are all accustomed to, hence Ramadan and the other 12 Islamic months move back 10 days every year. So for example, since Ramadan began on September 2nd this year, next year it would be starting around August 22nd based on the sighting of the moon. That particular clause, that the moon needs to be sighted, to officially announce the start of the month actually causes quite some disorganization. For example, Ramadan began on three different days in different parts of Pakistan. The NWFP government apparently saw it earlier than the Punjab government, and hence they began Ramadan on different days. Pretty bizarre and disorganized if you ask me. Not the way Islam teaches us to be united.

The main message of the month is to begin to understand all the different things we are blessed with. We begin to understand what it means to be hungry and not be able to do anything about it. Something many people the world over have to live with during thier lives. Since it is a mandatory requirement for all healthy muslims (which means that children, old people, pregnant women etc are exempt) to fast the whole month which is to raise awareness among the rich of the problem of hunger faced by people who are not so well off. Ramadan also teaches you self restraint and control. You learn to withhold food, water and sex which also teaches you the value of these things, as they say you only value what you have, when you lose it.

So thats a bit about Ramadan, on this first day of Ramadan where im feeling the fast, i.e. im quite hungry but i have to control myself, but there is only half an hour left for sunset so not much of a wait left. So one down, 28 odd to go. :D

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Speech Fiasco

I do like the idea of public speaking and up until some time ago thought i was not too bad at it. A speech, if you could call it that, on the Welcome Night for the MBA batch of 2010 at LUMS made sure i change my mind on that thought. It was the first time i had a prepared speech, i love impromptu, i took 2 hours to write it. What contributed to the debacle was a bad audio system, a bad venue and a mike way too far from my face. Here is the tex of the speech.

"Assalam u alaikam ladies and gentleman and welcome to the “Welcome night” for the batch of 2010. There are quite a few activities planned for the evening and im sure you all hate long speeches so I’ll keep this as short as I can.

First of all, on behalf of the batch of 2009 I would like to congratulate you on being added to the illustrious group of individuals who have been a part of the LUMS MBA program. You have here today because your academic performance and work experience make you potential leaders of tomorrow. It is indeed an honor to be in this group and I am sure you will give due respect to this position of privilege.

Now to the more important part, being where you are right now, at the start of a rigorous 2 year MBA program you have plenty of choices in how to go about these 2 years. As your seniors, we consider it our duty and right to give you guidance based on our experiences. Whether you choose to learn from our learnings or want to learn from your own mistakes, is up to you but I would recommend getting some input before you go any further.

To keep it simple, ill choose two obvious options. The first option is that you choose to study real hard. You choose to get as many HP’s as you can, you choose to spend long hours in the library and stay up till 4 am reading up cases a week in advance and you choose to make your parents real proud with your grades and scholastic achievements, you choose to prove your worth not just to everyone around you but to yourself as well. After all there isn’t an academic stage in Pakistan which is as big as the LUMS MBA program. So that’s one option and to those who choose this option I wish you the best of luck and hope you reach the ultimate heights in academic excellence.

Now some students in this program choose not to take that route and instead decided to make a little more use of the freedom offered by college life. You may recall your time during your bachelors program which im sure wasn’t so long ago and along with all those fun filled memories, there are those moments of regret of things you DID NOT do. In the next 2 years you will be pushed to study day in and day out and its easy to get lost in all that rut so my advice is to not let that get to you. Rather live out these two years such that when you finish the MBA program you don’t end up with any regrets at all. Life’s too short and these 2 years will pass u by before u know it So just remember to live a little. You can join a society, become the president of society XY and Z, If you look around you, you’ll see some very special people. People you will make real good friendships with. Study them a little more than your books and I assure you, you’ll learn a lot more about how to better live your life. I must make it clear however I am not encouraging reckless behavior or careless shenanigans but just showing the option to selectively choose actions of a more… frivolous nature which of course must be based on mature judgment. This advice does come with a warning attached, if you take this option too far, you may not be here two years from now. Do remember that before you make your decision.

Well, that’s my two cents worth, its up to you which path you take but just remember any time you need any help you’ll find your colleagues from the batch of 2009 right behind you waiting to give you an extra hand. Thank you for listening and have a nice evening."

It wasn't all that bad though, hanging out with some friends helped ease the pain from the ego-bruising!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Kuala Lumpur - Day 1 - Arrival

I reached Kuala Lumpur at 3:30 pm after a sleepless night in Karachi. I had been at the airport at 4am after last minute passport retrieval from the Cargo service. Before then, I had been hanging out with Foaad, Zahra and Shehzad at a rock concert at the Art Council followed by dinner at Karachi Bar BQ and a chill out at Shehzads place.

Immigration was exceptionally smooth but not so was the baggage retrieval which took well over 15 minutes. Once i was out of the airport and saw some of the Malaysian landscape it really was an exceptionally enthralling experience. It was so starkly evident how Malaysia has progressed into a relatively well developed nation. There are well organized structured systems in place, people are happy doing their tasks, business seems to be doing well. There is plenty of multiculturalism, several ethnicities living together. There may be one of the 55% of the 24 million population muslims sitting next to you or an orthodox Christian, Hindu or Buddhist and it just will not matter. There is no apparent segregation or rift between them at all.

Food Street - Bintang

Enjoying some local delicacies with Chen and Rebecca (not in picture)

The weather is a bit warm as I find my way to the YMCA which has highly affordable yet very decent rooms. There is a Laundromat, hair saloon, an internet café, electronics store and a grocery store within a minute walk of the place. In the evening headed over to Bukit Bintang to chill out with Chen Chow and Rebecca we walked around the place. Some the Star Hill shopping mall, which is ultra cool and expensive! We ate some roadside Malaysian food in a place like the food street with various vendors selling different types of food. It was an awesome start to the trip.

Kuala Lumpur - Day 2 - Hang out

Most of the delegates for the HPAIR conference had not yet arrived in KL. So took the time to learn more about the MM2H program and spent most of the afternoon meeting government authorized local representatives and using the very efficient train system which reminded me a lot of the T in Boston. In the early evening, Ghazi, my cousin, came over from his college town and we hung out for a bit before heading out to a get together for HPAIR people all set up by Chen.
Scintillating Malay dances
We had a nice group of people including Chen the Malaysian guide, Xiao Ming from Hong Kong, Darby from Canada (her brother goes to ISU!!!), Mohit from a village in Punjab, India, Daniel, a beer loving dude from China/Canada, Hidemi from Japan who will work for Morgan Stanley M&A team when she graduates, Ming a, quiet, local Malaysian, Van and Kirsty from Vietnam and Liza who has her own consulting business in the Phillipines, Ghazi, myself and a few other whom I did not get acquainted to. Most of these guys had travelled to 5-8 countries already which was astounding. Had a pretty wholesome buffet which had a variety of stuff from prawns, shrimp and buttered vegetables to fruit in a spicy sauce and roasted chicken. We witnessed some pretty decent dances from Malaysian, Chinese and Indian backgrounds before we went on stage ourselves and had a great time doing the bamboo dance, some cha-cha type dance and other local dances. It was truly great and well worth the RM 70 that we paid for it all.
Went on stage to do the bamboo dance
The night wasn’t quite over. Those mentioned above excluding Ghazi head out to a bar called the Luna Bar which has some pretty awe inspiring views. The place had a pool instead of a dance floor and was on the 36th floor of some building with an excellent view of the KLCC. Very much recommended spot for anyone travelling there and we had a lovely evening out there. Came home at about 2 am with no real plans for the next day but the way plans are made out here, do not know what might come up next.
Friends at the Luna Bar

Kuala Lumpur - Day 3 – Conference initiated

I switched hotels and came to the JW Marriott which is where the conference was to be held. It is located in an area called Binkut Bintang or more generally the triangle, which is an awesome place with lots happening all around.
The pool on the 6th floor
More relaxing in the afternoon
Did initial registration for the conference, chatted up with some new people there were plenty to choose from as we had over 300 delegates participating, and heard some boring speakers before about 12-15 of us went and had dinner at a place in the Pavilion called Michelangelo’s followed by a pre-party at Xiao Ming’s place attended by about 20 of us. I think the 20 of us were from 17 different countries and 5 continents.
The fancy dinner
It was incredibly good gelling experience, so much so, that instead of going to a club for partying we ended up staying there for the evening. Afterwards a few of us gathered at Sams place for more partying before finally sleeping at about 3 which was very early for the upcoming days standards.

Kuala Lumpur - Day 4 - Conference and Networking

It was a day full of events at the business conference. It started with an introductory session on globalization which was quite interesting. Despite the fact that I was extremely tired after the previous nights extravaganza and that I missed more of the speech I asked a question to the speaker from GE regarding the role of government policy in curbing the fast pace of globalization to safeguard local companies. Afterwards we had a case discussion on GE’s Eco friendly hybrid engine for rail transport which was really exciting as a high profile employee of GE was present to answer questions and oversee the case discussion. More of the same events in the evening, finally got done at about 4.

Some heavy pre-partying
Networking from around the globe
Dancing away
Then we chilled out the remainder of the evening. Had some seafood dinner at the Pavilion food court followed up by some solid pre-partying at XM’s place and then we were off to the Asian Heritage Drive where there were a row of clubs to choose from. Pretty neat experience, I am not even sure which club we went to but it turned out pretty nice. There was a group of about 20 of us so we pretty much took over the place somewhat. We had the usual 3-4 am pool party followed by some post-partying at Sam’s place. Then we finally called it a night around 6 or so.

Our little group

Kuala Lumpur - Day 5 - Conference and more networking

I woke up a little groggy at 10 after about 3 hours of sleep. It was already too late for the plenary session and the first round of sessions. Not that I regretted that, as I was to later find out they were quite boring. Had a nice breakfast by the pool at the Marriot to detoxicate and rehydrate myself before attending a session Feng Shui – The art of good living. That also turned out to be very boring so I left that early and headed of to the Sauna which was just mind-blowingly relaxing. 5 star hotels rock…or I think that what the Marriott was.

Breakfast by the pool :)
The Sauna....relaxing!!!
In the evening we had dinner at the food court across the street in the Pavillion. Later on in the evening there was a delegate party at Planet Hollywood. That was pretty cool. We partied with many of the newly made friends at the conference from literally all over the world. It was indeed an incredible evening. Some left for the Poppy Lounge, a pretty hip-hop club but Planet Hollywood had a good crowd going. So it was aight!
Typical dinner - Exciting seafood
Planet Hollywood - Good times.
Came back to the Marriott for our regimented pool party routine, did some fun pool stunts which were more fun to do because it was past 2 am. We had a post party in my room. And Yosuke was kind enough to let us do what we wanted despite the fact he was sleeping. Later on we chilled at Sam’s place for a little while before having breakfast at 7 and heading to bed soon after.

Kuala Lumpur - Day 6 - Fish Massage and Sky Bar

I had a relatively free morning, so slept in 4 hours. Just chilled out for most of the afternoon, made an attempt to go shopping for souvenirs didn’t really find anything reasonable and affordable so we just walked around and chilled out before we came back to the hotel and took another shot at the Sauna which once again absolutely rocked. In the late afternoon, I arranged for all of us to go for a very exotic and therapeutic fish massage. You basically put your feet in a large aquarium and these little fish (some were as big as my hand) nibble on your legs and gobble up all the dead skin leaving your legs fresh and healthy. It was pretty intense and some of us couldn’t keep our feet in for too long at all.
The fish massage
Yes, we ate that
Friends at the Gala Dinner
In the evening we had the gala dinner, which was truly exceptional. We had several exotic dishes to choose from. It was quite superb. As exhausted as we were, we still went out for the bars. Then we headed to the famous Sky Bar which is on the 38th floor of Traders tower and has a pretty neat view of the KLCC and the Twin towers. We chilled about around the pool and played some fun drinking games with a group of Koreans before heading back home. I lost my phone on the way back and spent a good 45 minutes of frenzied panic before knowing, I’d lost it in a friends car.
A view of the Sky Bar
A view of the Twin Towers
Then we chilled out at Sam’s place, played some really fun card games and then had some food at 6 am before finally hitting the sack at about 7 down at XM’s place near KLCC. Another fantastic day of a hell of a trip.
Custom Search