The Judicial Commission and The Verdict on PTI’s Dharna

I do not like Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf. I think the party has no clear policies, no agenda, and it is misleading the Pakistani youth. I believe that misleading youth could have catastrophic implications not just for Pakistan, but for PTI as well.

Thankfully, most my countrymen agreed with me and did not give PTI clear cut majority in the general elections of 2013. PTI did win in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan’s North Western province. They formed a coalition government there with Jamaat-e-Islami.

Since the very first day of elections, Imran Khan and his party PTI continuously protested the election rigging. According to the party, there was massive pre-poll rigging in selected constituencies throughout the country.  Imran Khan said he has proofs, documented evidence, eyewitnesses, video clips and enough material to prove that elections were rigged in favor of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz group.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf organized a country wide protest called Azadi March. PTI leaders including Imran Khan, camped outside Pakistan’s Parliament house for 126 days. During this sit-in, Imran Khan was alleged by a senior member of his own party, Mr. Javed Hashmi, as well as other political parties in Pakistan for collaborating with Pakistan’s military establishment to derail the government. Mr. Khan and Pakistan army both condemned and denied these allegations. PTI continued the protests and organized massive rallies not just in Islamabad, but also in all major cities of Pakistan.

Government had support of all political parties and the parliament. All opposition parties gave Nawaz Sharif full support. This was a big blow for PTI as they had submitted their resignations to the speaker of the National Assembly. Technically speaking, many legal experts believe that those resignations are automatically accepted and all PTI’s MNAs are no longer MNAs.

After months of tough negotiations, PTI agreed to hand over the matter to a judicial commission. The commission was tasked to listen to all the complaints of election rigging and present its report. Government agreed to organize re-election in the constituencies, if judicial commission found any evidence of rigging.

The Judicial Commission presented its report concluding that there was no significant evidence of any mass rigging in elections. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressed the nation and asked all parties to move forward.  PTI has accepted the commission’s report.

As for people questioning the report issued by Judicial Commission and its findings. The commission could only give recommendations based on the evidence, arguments, and documents presented to the commission from both sides. It seems like PTI was ill-prepared and had bad legal counsel. They were unable to prove any wrong doing.

This is unbelievable, the general consensus is that all Pakistani elections are a mess of irregularities. Candidates often try to influence polling process using all legal and illegal means. There should have been enough evidence to prove that. I cannot understand why PTI failed to bring in that evidence to the commission.

Now the Pakistani media, PML-N and PPP leaders are asking Imran Khan to apologize to the nation for wasting 126 days with his protest. Imran Khan and PTI refused to apologize.

I totally agree, they should not apologize.

It was good for democratic system of Pakistan. I didn’t like the way PTI formed alliances with the worst elements of Pakistani society during the protest. But I think that the protest will lead to good things.

I hope PTI will continue to build pressure on government to bring forward a thorough electoral reform legislation. This legislation should be aimed at shutting down all the loopholes in our electoral system that allow non-democratic elements to interfere and even engineer the election results.

WordPress.com Blocked and Then Unblocked in Pakistan

Pakistan Telecomunication Authority blocked WordPress.com across the country on March 22, 2015.

Government unblocked WordPress.com today. Apparently, it was blocked for Pakistan day parade in Islamabad. Pakistani Army is fighting a terrible war against terrorism in the country. Pakistani government occassionally blocks mobile phone services too based on intelligence reports. This usually happens around national and cultural holidays and in selected cities only.

The blockage of WordPress.com was not due to censorship. Even though, the country’s strong establishment has a reputation for censoring information sources like YouTube, which is banned since 2012. While the government cites blasphemous content and a court order as the main reason for the ban. Critics believe that it is due to the growing number of propaganda videos by Islamists, Baloch separatists, and other anti-state elements that triggered the ban.

These things have a damaging impact on Pakistan’s growing ICT industry. YouTube is a very important cultural phenomena in today’s world. While Pakistani internet users can still access it using VPN and Tor, but its so much trouble that many users don’t even bother.

Some experts believe that the ban will give a chance for some local businesses to grow. For example, tune.pk a local site that has thousands of YouTube videos copied and displayed illegally and without permission or consent from their publishers and without any usage rights.

This kind of moral corruption in the IT sector of Pakistan is tolerated by local IT community at large. In fact, many in the industry even feel jealous that why didn’t they cashed in the idea first.

For a real, sustainable, and powerful impact on the country’s economy our IT industry needs to be innovative, inventive, and creative. Sadly, government’s policies are a major hurdle in that path. This includes a shitty educational system which produces dumb workforce, crazy monetary policies which make online micro-transactions extremely difficult and costly, and lastly the random blocking of internet which creates uncertainty and doubt in the hearts of foreign investors.

The short blockage of WordPress.com was just a small scene from a long and painfully predictable comedy. Pakistan needs to get smarter if we want to survive in the future.

Why Everything is Cheaper in Karachi Than Lahore or Islamabad

Recently a friend of mine asked on Facebook, why cars are cheaper in Karachi than in Lahore or other cities? This is a great question because answering it actually explains a lot about the socio-economic environment of the city.

The mentality in the Karachi’s business community is to sell quickly. They do not want to hold on to something for a longer period of time just to get a better price. They would rather sell it at low profit or even at loss than to wait for a better price.

When you hold on to something for better price your money is stuck. The business community of Karachi don’t like money just sitting waiting for higher returns. It is kind of risky, what if you never get a higher price on that thing and the first price you rejected was actually the best price that you missed.

This mentality helps the city’s business community to quickly buy new things as they arrive in the market. Lets take a look at the fruits market in the city.

Karachi is further away from the fruit farms of the country. Many other cities are surrounded by countless farms but you will find a greater variety and quality of fruits in Karachi. You will also find fruits in Karachi to be much cheaper than any other city in the country.

Traders in other cities will stop buying fruits from farms once their stocks are full. Fruits are arriving at much faster pace than they can sell. They don’t want to sell at loss or unbelievably low profits.

On the other hand, traders in Karachi will buy all fruits coming to the city. This only becomes possible because the traders in the city don’t want to stock, they want to sell quickly for lower profit margins and sometimes even at loss. This is why their stocks are never full and they can always buy more fruit from farms all over the country and even from other countries.

This mentality is not just limited to trade. You can see it in action in every aspect of the city life. For example, housing sector. Karachiites would rather invest their money in business than buying a house on their own land. This is why more Karachiites live in apartment buildings and on rent.

You can see this in action in the services sector as well. Qualified and skilled professionals would grab a low paying job rather than waiting for a higher salary.

This particular behavioral trait of Karachiites is the real force behind the city’s economic growth. Despite the fact that Karachi is the most dangerous city in the world to live and do business, the economic growth is able to maintain a steady pace. However, crime in the city is a major threat and there are signs that it has already started affecting this growth.

Slow economic growth in Karachi has extremely dire implications for the economic stability of Pakistan. Because if the money stops moving hands in Karachi, then it will affect every single person in Pakistan.

Finding a coworking space in Karachi

Coworking Space for Freelancers in Karachi

Karachi is the largest city of Pakistan, and it has thousands of people working online. There is a very strong need for decent coworking space for freelancers in Karachi. This post is an attempt to bring freelancers and entrepreneurs together to build a coworking space in Karachi.

As someone who works from home, I can confidently say that it is not as easy as you would think. While working from homes gives you a sense of freedom, it also comes with its own disadvantages.

We recently had an interesting discussion on the topic at Pakistani Probloggers. Many group members showed interest in paying for a coworking space. I also talked to a couple of entrepreneurs who wanted to cash in the opportunity. Talking to these folks, I have found a few key points that need to be considered.

  • Freelancers want a coworking space in Karachi for 5000 – 10,000 PKR per month.
  • They want a place that is open 24/7, has uninterrupted power supply, and fast internet connection
  • The space also need to be comfortable and relaxed.
  • Entrepreneurs who want to invest, find it challenging to offer these features at this price

To build a coworking space and boost the remote working culture in Karachi we need both parties to find a middle ground. We need freelancers to increase their budget to at least 10,000 – 15,000. At this rate, a business can have a chance of covering their costs and even make profit.

We also need the entrepreneurs to think out of the box. They can lower their operating costs by providing add-on services. Like a small cafeteria inside the coworking space, conference room, team spaces, special corners at higher rates, extra comfy chairs, pick-&-drop services, and so on.

Freelancers who would like to show their interest in a coworking space can sign up here.

Your information will not be shared. The data will only be used to show investors and business owners that there is a market waiting for them to jump in.

Entrepreneurs, investors, and businesses who would like to start this thing, here is how we can help you.

  • We can help you promote this coworking venture on social media. Believe me we are good at it, we do this for living and you will get all this promotion for free
  • We already have communities like Pakistani Probloggers with more than 10,000 members. Most of them are freelancers and many of them are doing really well in their respective fields
  • We will share the data to give you an estimate of how many individuals have shown interest in paying for a coworking space in Karachi.

If you have any more questions, please leave a comment below or use the contact form to reach me directly.

Highly Educated Population = Higher GDP per Capita

Read this article on Yahoo! Finance, Canada The 10 Most Educated Countries in The World. Clearly, the countries which invest heavily on education, are also the countries with the highest GDP per Capita. This list includes a country called Finland. It is a tiny snowy little country in the Northern Europe.

Finland has a very low population around 60 lac people (6 Mn). It has a GDP of $239.232 billion. I researched a little about the economy of Finland and found that the country has low resources. It faces challenges in agriculture and energy sector. Most jobs are created in services sector.

On the other hand we have Pakistan, a country with a population of 18 Crore (180 Mn), it has a GDP of $210.8 billion (29bn less than Finland). Pakistan has a diverse landscape, plenty of natural resources, a powerful military, a diverse population. Pakistan also facing the energy crisis.

Finland’s Education Budget in 2011 was €11.1 billion. Pakistan’s Education Budget in 2011 was $1.5 billion.

I am not going to write anything about the importance of Education. I think anyone who can read this is already aware of that. I am also sure that people in the Pakistani Government are also well aware of the importance of this issue. My concern is that it seems like no one in the country is really worried about this issue. It should be our top national priority, but sadly it is not.

Internet Anonymity – Why Real Profiles Should not be Enforced

When I arrived on the internet, it was a place full of people from the privileged class. Coming from an under privileged background, I had the feeling that may be people will not like me on the internet. Fortunately, it was the time when anonymity on internet was not considered a threat or a bad thing. Internet itself was a new phenomenon and people were reluctant to share personal information with strangers.

Then I started meeting people using a pseudo name, learned a lot from them. I grew up, and so did the Internet. Slowly and gradually, I realized that the real me is much better than the ‘persona’ I have created for myself. The real me has better stories to tell, better experiences to share, and I am perfectly capable of being just me without being awkward.

I believe that lots of people who want to use internet with pseudo names don’t want to hurt anyone. They are real people with real experiences of their own. They want to be the part of this wonderful conversation we call the web, but they have some concerns of their own. For some people these concerns could be their insecurities, their fears, or maybe they just don’t want to be known and identified with the same identity that they have in real life. They choose anonymity to feel safe and comfortable.

Recently, social networks have started enforcing a real name policy. On its launch, Google+ strictly forbade pseudo names and discouraged people by blocking profiles made using pseudo names.

How a web profile could be real? Anyone can steal a photograph, change it using photoshop, and use it as a profile picture. There are even software available that help you generate real names. Anyone can generate a 100% doubt free real profile within minutes and use it for years before anyone could find out.

I believe that by restricting people from creating pseudo names or anonymous profiles we are interrupting the discussion. These people behind fake profiles have so much to offer and the layer of anonymity provides them the comfort they need to share their stuff. You could still go to small web forums where almost everyone is online with a pseudo name. The flavor, the colorfulness, the texture this anonymity adds is actually very beautiful.

I fear that by discouraging anonymity, we will make our online social networks just like the off line world. People will say what they think others would like hearing. Not everyone has the confidence to be just themselves without fearing judgment from their peers.

Anonymity on Internet Threatens Trust and Credibility?

People with anonymous identities completely understand that other people will be reluctant to trust them. They still want to remain anonymous so I think it is our choice whether we still want to trust them or not. I will trust an anonymous profile if it provided me help in some forum, or asked a question on Quora. I will certainly not hand them my bank account details, buy things from them, or invite them over my house for dinner. The responsibility to protect ourselves from harm on the internet lies in our own hands. If we are using real names and pictures on the social web then we must be equipped with tools to protect our privacy. If someone feels that they cannot maintain their own safety and privacy online then perhaps this is one more reason to remain anonymous.

Credibility should be judged by the action of the people not by their pseudo names or avatars in profile pictures. I wouldn’t mind voting up a good answer on Quora posted by a guy named “MrButterfly”. If the answer is good, helpful, detailed, informative and correct, then this is what I signed up for and I should appreciate it when it is offered to me. However, I may not be able to appreciate MrButterFly if he provided me medical advice, investment advice, offered me to purchase something or hire their services. Just like MrButterFly, I also have the choice to decide what is best and useful for me.

A multi-faced life on the Internet?

anonymity on internet

Another argument is that it is just not healthy to use a pseudo name among the company of people who are online with their actual names and pictures. I think that people using their actual names and pictures made this choice on their own. If they want their choice to be real, accepted, and appreciated; then they should also accept other people’s choice to remain anonymous and still be accepted and appreciated.

No matter how many profiles this one person creates. They are still an individual, with a conscience; they should be treated as any intelligent being should be treated. If they decide to change into multiple profiles it is their choice. Again we have a choice too, we have a choice to make our own decisions. If we suspect a profile for misbehaving or being inappropriate then we can use our right to ignore them.

We all are living with multiple faces and personas in our real lives. There is a Noumaan that people know at work, and then there is a Noumaan that people know at home. Noumaan, the same person is seen differently by different groups of people. Whether it is Noumaan’s deliberate choice to be seen differently by different groups, or not; we are no one to judge him for that. If this rule applies in real life, then why it can’t be applied on the Web? Don’t we all want web to be just as real as our offline lives?

I am not suggesting that we should all start living multiple lives on the web. I am saying that most of us already live multiple lives in the eyes of people around us. How they see us depends on how we interact with them and this interaction develops an image of us in the eyes of others. Sometimes we even try to give an impression of ourselves that is not real us. Sometimes we want to scare some people off, so we put a rude angry face on. Sometimes we want our bosses to like us so we put a happy go lucky, hardworking office guy face on, there are lines that we use at home to make our wives happier, there are lies we tell to entertain our children.

In the end, I wonder exactly what is real. How real we are? And what right to do we have to question the reality of each other?

Further Reading:

 

Pakistan ka Epic Drama

I like Roznama Jawani. Some friends of mine think that they are copying “The Onion”, but I think they are not. They are dirtier and funnier. I really don’t have any issues with dirty jokes, I love smart dirty jokes. Like the one about the “Local Man getting Anal Probe by Aliens”, or “The Arrival of Slut excites local youth”.

We have a beautiful culture in our country, a fantastic blend of influences taken from Western+Arab conservationism, our own heritage and the conflicts we are facing every day, on every corner. The collision of East vs West, Islam vs Rest of the World, Rest of The World vs. Pakistani Terror Imports, Our own Lack of Identity and the crazy-crazy desire to have a nationalist-patriotic ideology to stand upon.

These conflicts are often reflected in our discussions, no Pakistanis can talk without facing conflicts or confusions. For example, two friends might agree upon killing Qadiyanis, but they might disagree whether or not the state should do it, or it is the job of the believers. Two liberals may agree upon dangers of the blasphemy law, but they could have two opposite views on whether it should be “totally removed” or “partially improved”.

The so called Pakistani moderates are the most confused among all people. They have no idea what their own views are. They just want to live peacefully and try their best not to have an opinion. If they are forced to choose one they would choose the one that is the most popular among the crowd they are with.

I feel that Roznama Jawani, “Jays Toons”, “Jaago Pakistan”, “Enemies Of Pakistan”, and others, represent this very conflicted nation. The authors behind these pages have very different views, but surprisingly people who like Roznama Jawani and Jay’s Toons also like Jaago Pakistan and Enemies of Pakistan.

If the nations were described as food, I would say that we are the Special Mix Chaat with countless spices. Some find us sour, some find us sweet. We might look excitingly dangerous to some….and for others we are hot enough to burn their intestines.