Saturday, March 28, 2009

Thank You President Obama

I am glad to hear President Obama’s US-Pak Afghan strategy speech, he is going to triple US economic aid to Pakistan and promise additional troops. I have great respect for American nation esp. the people, friendliest in the American continent. Pakistani people are peace loving, love to see America as partner in all aspects and aspire for long term relationship based on mutual respect .
We agree with Mr. President that al Qaeda and its extremist allies are a cancer that risks killing Pakistan from within and they offers the people of Pakistan nothing but destruction. President is right that that a campaign against extremism will not succeed with bullets or bombs alone. It is also in the interest of Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to rooting out al Qaeda and the violent extremists within its borders. US and Allies must guarantee or respond to Pakistan’s insecurity in case of deep Indian involvement in Afghanistan.
Peace could only be achieved through ensuring mutual security instead of militaristic threats. I am glad that Mr. President believes that ‘The United States has great respect for the Pakistani people. Pakistan has a rich history, and Pakistanis have struggled against long odds to sustain their democracy. I would like to share that the people of Pakistan want the same things that America want: an end to terror, access to basic services, the opportunity to live their dreams, and the security.
I would be glad to see if countries across region Russia, Iran, China, India along with Pak Afghan are united to defeat the common enemy then a durable peace in the region could be guaranteed and sustained.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bye Bye Bush; Cheeky Ad Campaign :-)

I always like cheeky advertisements, Polygamy Porter is one of them I lately wrote about, in Pakistan, Nandos always comes up with creative text such as Zardari & Palin incident.

Lately I came across a BYE BYE BUSH adv Campaign by a Singaporean Wax Salon, its name is STRIP. What I like about the campaign, it is the best one can take advantage of current affairs with a play on words in an ad campaign such as;
Farewell Bush
Bye Bye Bush
Boy Are We Glad to See Bush Go
No More Bush
Life Will be Better Without Bush

Very very funny, STRIP Brazilian wax salon has always been cheeky, fun and forward…I love to see more liberal cheeky advertisements, which may not meant to insult any politician or country but to make people laugh.

Hey, Conservative Pakistani Middle Class, Watch “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

The struggle on the streets of Punjab, restoration of Chief Justice, victory dance by Jammat E Islami, Imran Khan & jubilant media with sensational news has made me think about anti Chavez campaign by media and conservative middle class.

Nadeem Paracha in today’s Dawn refers to anti Chavez campaign orchestrated by media, he writes “In a terrific new documentary called “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” director Kim Bartley convincingly pushes forward the idea that the right-wing coup that toppled Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez in 2002, was propagated by a string of private television channels that are owned by the country’s elite

If one looks at the background of PML N, JI, Imran Khan and middle class of Punjab ‘the GT Road mindset’, all are conservative. They are the ones always danced on the tunes of Military, welcomed the dictators and responsible for the mess that was created during 80s.

It has hardly been one year, liberal PPP government is so fragile, under pressure and blamed for all the wrong. The GT Road conservative mindset, still believes in old tactics, same were used in 88 and in 90s. It seems, we have not learned any lessons or Pakistan is all about the mandate of conservative middle class of Punjab. They support Taliban, they have problem with India, they think Baloch are traitors, they think they are the ones who love Pakistan. They are ones, have right to define what Pakistani interests are.

Same mindset supports Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden, rest of country wants to get rid of all that mess. Why whole country is the victim of the conservative mindset?

It is lament to see people calling the last week event, a triumph of freedom, age of free media, I would say they must watch the documentary “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, I am not equating Zardari with Chavez but that documentary raises a lot of questions for conservative middle class of Punjab.

If Conservative mandate of Punjab thinks that they have all the right to define the interests of Pakistan, they are mistaken; countries are strengthened by accepting the diversity and rights and mandate of all.

Majority party represents the aspiration of rest of the country, through the number of parliamentarians, if media and blocking the GT Road is the best way to topple the government then it is a mistake, such steps would be disastrous for the future of country.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sensationalized Pakistani Media is Manufacturing Consent

Pakistani news media is one of the best prime time entertainment and anchors are celebrities. It seems everyone is so focused as if media is fighting the battle for the future of Pakistan. They are making people news hungry, sharing breaking news every second and every minute.

When I look at the anchors and their discussions, it seems they are forcing their or someone’s agenda on poor viewers, everyone is trying to sell their views, adding spice to make it more saleable. Everyone seems to be manufacturing consent as per their specifications.

On the one side, I feel, media sells anything which is in demand, I question, does sensational minute by minute news is in demand, that’s what general people want to see….may be…or select few big media houses are there to manufacture consent who so ever pays the highest bid.

At times I questions, freedom is good for democratic society and progress but that’s what freedom is all about, what we see in media.

May be immaturity and learning curve is going to lead to maturity, time will tell but at this sensitive juncture media should play a responsible role.

At least to me most of the media houses, except few, are acting like tabloids such as SUN Newspaper UK or FOX TV.

“Idealism Collides with Realism on the Streets of Pakistan”

Idealism seems to be the baby of nationalists, chaos and uncertainties favors them to combat realists. Well, to me realists are the ones who think that Pakistan has to move forward with the world, get along with changing regional geo political dynamics. To be an active partner in war on terror, support NATO forces in Afghanistan, be friend with India, avoid any direct support to Taliban.

Well on the other side the Idealists, do not agree any kind of active support on war on terror, Indo-Afghan policies are also extreme, they believe on the capability of nuclear warheads the country possesses. These are joined by right wingers to retired armed personnel. Lawyers’ moment is just an issue used to pressurize the present day government, to destabilize so that greater regional agenda could not be implemented.

Such direct confrontation does not favor any; it is not at all a good omen to set scores on streets through chaos. Parliament is there, if any Tom Dick and Harry gather 100,000 protestors in Islamabad to topple government then I guess every month we may get to see such topples. I argue that let the democracy mature, let one party complete the tenure, so that evolution could take place.

Media also seems to be playing an immature role through constant sensationalized news, making people news hungry minute by minute.

We are at the juncture of history where we have to make tough decisions,

1) Should sustained democracy be allowed to function or destabilization measures are chosen.
2) Should the Afghan infiltration be stopped or still the wild quest of strategic depth be perused in the form of interference there, through Taliban.
3) Should we go with the world, align our goals with changing global political dynamics or we peruse our own agenda in the midst of global anger.
4) Should be proliferate the nuclear arsenals along with extremism or we become the ambassador of peace.

Future of Pakistan lies in the choices we make mainly pertaining to above questions.

Hope sanity prevails.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stop Hatred; A Reality Check

It’s been couple of weeks I am back in town after my US exposure through Exchange Program. Few of my intellectual businessmen friends invited me over coffee for general discussion ‘we often interact’, but this discussion was different. It was because I had completely different perception of US, ‘not the policy but the society’.

During the discussion with friends I found there is so much distrust and enmity towards US because of the war on terror and constant drone attacks in Pakistan. Everyone was talking in terms of various conspiracy theories, discussing possibilities, guesses regarding US desires for the region. Few guys went to an extent saying the JEWISH lobby wants to wipe out Nuclear Muslim state. These thought are sold by media and conservative political parties in Pakistan. Even few shared the views that Capitalism is dying in the form of Fall of America.

I am glad at least in my circle I am able to make my friends to think rather than being engrossed with Anti US feelings. Once again I just want to let my friends revisit the words I have shared;

*US is a place that attracts the best of the best brain from across the globe, why?
*It is a place called land of opportunities for all, why?
*I met a Pakistani SVP at Bank of America head office.
*I saw a Jordanian chief economist in one of prestigious Deptt of Commerce.
*Every other person one interacts is an immigrant.
*Grass root freedom based on individual rights guaranteed by Bill of Rights is practiced in true spirit to unite the diverse country.
*It is the place for idea generation; best innovations come from US, why?
*We as Muslim society hardly innovate anything, just consume whatever other societies innovate for us, why?
*Muslim radical groups only have short sighted narrow view unlike US world view, why?
*Had world been lead by Saudi, what would have been the geo-political map, what would have happened to women, freedom & learning??

Fine, if US economy suffers deeper, i am sure they wont be looking for a Pakistani bail out package!

I may agree that US support to Israel, Palestinian conflict is there, war on terror and indiscriminate bombing is there but who can bridge the gap? Who can talk peace? Who can take initiatives? Who can remove distrust? Who can bring hope?

I am sure, it is the time, Muslim world should take the initiative, and a renewed dialogue is the need of the hour, as pointed out by President Obama.

Lastly I would share one thing, US society offers a lot, it is not perfect but one can learn.

Let me sum it up, one of my cool friend asked me to watch a movie ‘ Moulin Rouge’, to me few words from the movie defines US society……Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Love…..truly Bohemian ‘ ideally speaking’

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Women’s Day Special: Honor Killing; who’s Honor is this???

Today I was shocked to see a documentary on honor killing in Muslim World. Guy cuts his sisters head and brings it to the police station, to inform police that he had killed her. She was killed because she violated the social honor code that is defined by religion and enforced by MEN. At times women interaction with strangers leads to doubt in the minds of male in her family, such doubts at times leads to killing in the name of honor.

Such brutal killing justified by religion is terrifying for women, unimaginable in modern world. People thought human race has emancipated from the brutal past or medieval age is over but I lament that parts of the world are still in dark ages. Female are looking for emancipation and freedom in male chauvinistic society.

Women are terrified, no rights, no legal protection…countries like Afghan, Saudi, and Rural Pakistan…….are the worst affected.

I have yet to come across any news that says, a man was brutalized for extra marital affair or faced the rage of honor killing. For once, I realized that it is nothing but men’s honor, the big EGO is behind such brutalities, because to them women is coveted deeply personal sex toy for only personal pleasure and controlled as per defined norms by society and religion.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Difference between European & Middle Eastern Couple......???

Real difference between European & Middle Eastern couple...after few years.......!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Olympic International Studies Students Host International Visitors

Visitors to Charlotte have a new opinion of American schools and American students after visiting the School of International Studies and Global Economics at Olympic. Visitors to Charlotte have a new opinion of American schools and American students after visiting the School of International Studies and Global Economics at Olympic. On Feb. 9, 25 delegates representing 25 nations participating in an international trade visit met with students and staff. The delegates included ministers of finance, entrepreneurs, lawyers, professors and journalists.

Principal Matthew Hayes opened the visit with introductions and a warm welcome to Charlotte and Olympic. Curriculum coordinator and teacher Brett Haight then gave an overview of school design and curriculum.

A student panel made up of freshmen, seniors and one graduate talked about the school’s international focus, as well as their personal experiences. The panel was followed by a question-and-answer session. During that session, freshman Danielle Gray spoke in Chinese with representative Fuan Kong, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce. Chinese is one of three languages offered at the Global School.

Many issues were discussed during the question and answer period. At one point representative Imran Baloch, senior marketing officer for the Engro Polymer and Chemical Company of Pakistan, said all he knew about American schools was what was on TV: “violence, drugs and apathy of students.” He said when he got home, he would tell everyone he knew about the wonderful things happening in American schools and the efforts students were making to globalize their perspective and learning.

The School of International Studies and Global Economics was the only school the representatives visited during their time in the United States. The event was coordinated through The International House of Charlotte. The International House is an organization dedicated to bringing Charlotte and the world together. Its mission is to promote international understanding by serving as a center for diversity, advocating for people of diverse national backgrounds and facilitating professional and cultural programs.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tête-à-tête about America; Conversation with a French Guy

It has been over one week; I have been having discussions with many guys regarding US economy, society, politics and culture.

I always had perception that French do not like anyone except themselves, they envy Britain; make fun of Italian and of course nothing positive about America.

I usually have interesting discussions in hot Jacuzzi in one of the leading hotels in Karachi, I love social interaction in the SPA, get to meet different people from various parts of the world.

Today I met one of the CEOs of a global hotel in Karachi, guy is from France, and initially he explained about hotel business in Pakistan then asked me about the industry I work for. Then discussion continued with US economy, all the way from housing crisis to stimulus package and forecasts.

I was surprised when French guy shared his perception of America, he told me that if America goes down, world will go down and US will not let anything go down it is simply because they have winning vigor. They make mistakes, learn and bounce back, they have capacity to shift the complete paradigm, it is one of the winning societies unlike economically conservative European and Japanese.

He further mentioned that US has capacity to shift paradigm, simply because they do not have any history, it has been over 100 to 200 years they have started moving up, they do not think about past or do not have historical complexes or mental blocks, whereas other societies such as Japanese and Europe has to face past.

French guys’ illustration was interesting, never thought or looked at it from such perspective; however, I have an idea that US is not a failure shy country.

Frankly, there are negative things about US but mostly positive aspects are so many that one tend to ignore negatives, at times I wonder if SAUDI had been the super power and shaping the global affair, Oh GOSH......i just can not imagine the plight of poor world.

What if Soviet had been running the show………US has made many mistakes, atrocities in Vietnam, Iraq and else are there but I am still glad that US is shaping the global history.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sound of Banjo in Salt Lake City Mountains

Banjo has always been my favorite musical instrument, in Pakistan it is only played in Baloch culture along with Surod ‘another Balochi folk musical instruments’.
During my recent US visit, I was invited over a home hospitality dinner by Michael & Tammy in a three story beautiful wooden house surrounded by icy Wasatch Mountains in Salt Lake City, UTAH. I loved the food and discussion with Michael, Tammy, Ron & Jennifer. Michael served us Broccoli Mascarpone soup and in entrée, saltimbocca chicken was served along with creamy arugula over sweet potato pasta orange cranberry sauce with Brazil nuts, it was so yummy, I still do not forget the taste.

After meal, light instrumental music was played; it was so familiar and captivating to my ears that I could not resist asking Michael about the music, he told me that it was Banjo. I was surprised ‘big time surprise’; I thought Banjo is a folk authentic Balochi musical instrument.

I went to hotel room to research about the origin of Banjo, I found that “The banjo is a stringed instrument developed by enslaved Africans in the United States, adapted from several African instruments.The name banjo is commonly thought to be derived from the Kimbundu term mbanza. Some etymologists derive it from a dialectal pronunciation of "bandore", though recent research suggests that it may come from a Senegambian term for a bamboo stick formerly used for the instrument's neck.

However tune was familiar but the shape of Banjo in Balochi music is different from the one used in US. It is fascinating to know that how historically human interaction resulted in exchange and enrichment of global culture and music.