Saturday, February 27, 2010

India – Pakistan; Image Matters!!!!

It was cold winter in Lahore; at my business school heated discussion on branding the country dominated the class. Discussion was about the global product positioning and the image of a country. Consumer’s product preference is dominated by many factors but the image of exporting country is also important.

Discussion followed by various video clips developed by tourism authorities such as Malaysia Truly Asia and Incredible India. For a while class discussed, what if we develop a video showing Amazing Pakistan to the world. Class was all in the favor of branding country but I was the only skeptic. My question was simple, when ground reality in Pakistan is different, terror attacks, suicide bombing, extremists and jingoistic media creating hatred all around, how we can fool people through creating a false image of peaceful and amazing Pakistan.

First we need to fix the basics then talk of inviting people. Being Karachiite, I hardly feel secure on the busy streets, what to talk of inviting foreigners!!!!

During my last exchange program trip to over 5 states in US, I heard unstopped praise of India, its culture, food, movies and history, so was the case during my interactions in Tokyo.

We may blame others for our plight and sit around do nothing but people face the bitter reality.

Today its Holi and whole world is glued to India, I came across this heading in a UK newspaper “From the lavish scenes of Bollywood to the rich spectrum of their cuisine, no other country in the world celebrates colors like India”.

We are a confused nation, trying to Islamize whole world, becoming more Arab than Arabs; most of us do not know the historical facts, nationhood is teetering at the brink of disaster. Be it NWFP or Balochistan, Urban Karachi or Lahore, insecurity is all around.

Can we think of positioning Pakistan????

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Partying TV Anchors & Morality Brigade!!!

Partying pictures of female TV anchors have lately become the talk of the town, I also received forward email message etc. Asma Shirazi, Meher Bukhari, Saima Mohsin are some of the names attended the party hosted at Diplomatic Enclave. Well, I have never come across any male TV anchor’s drink & dancing pictures. I just forgot that only women are object of sin, they have to confer to the lifestyle suggested by morality brigade with detailed & prescribed limits.

This morality brigade is hypocrite, well religious morality & boundaries of ethics go beyond women. Let me ask simple questions, what about lying, what about back biting, what about tax evasion, what about electricity theft, what about exploiting labor, what about supporting extremists 'who are out there to kill innocents, morality brigade never condemns them', what about supporting dictatorial regimes what about using religious verses for personal gains, what about sexual abuse of students in Madressa.

Apart from dancing anchors, Pakistan’s image is not at all positive and we need to fix various other fundamentals. Just step out of Pakistan, you will realize how others perceive us. To a great extent that perception is true “one may disagree” !!

Who has given morality brigade the authority to decide what is moral and what is immoral!! Well, if these TV anchors are comfortable with certain lifestyle “it’s their fundamental right”, even if they choose not to follow religion & religious morality, It is none of our business, who are we to decide and do social policing???

Well, one may disagree with one country’s policy; criticizes it on TV, yet interact and socialize with diplomatic staff. We are not living in the age when people used to kill on the basis of disagreements. Civilized societies have moved on and with such medieval mindset we may turn back to Stone Age " to an extent we have, wearing modern attire but with stone age mindset" !!!!

For my readers I am sharing these pictures & I want to let them decide & have their own conclusions.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pakistani Diplomat; Your Name is VULGAR!!!

Pakistani diplomat in Saudi Arabia was refused over vulgar name translation. As per news report published in various papers, a Pakistani diplomat Akbar Zeb will not become next Pakistani Ambassador in Saudi Arabia. Report says Zeb’s credentials seem in order; he is the former ambassador to the United States, India and South Africa. He also held the position of High Commissioner designate to Canada.

Lately he was nominated to be ambassador in Saudi, when his name was translated into Arabic, Akbar Zeb means “Biggest Dick”. News report emphasizes that Saudis stress a lot on modesty, particularly in public, they could not stand such a name.

Media further reports that “in hopes of minimizing the use of the word in public, Saudi Arabia has refused to accredit Mr. Zeb for the position”.

For me it is hard to imagine that name could be such a big problem on this level.

If this is the case then I wonder how come they allowed DICK Cheney, what about various Pakistanis with surname BUTT.

There could be many other words may have different meaning in other languages. I simply fail to understand, what is in a name????

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Love Sucks!!! Guys are Asses!!!!

It has been a while I haven’t written anything on relationship & most of the guys even at times my female readers do not like my men bashing !!! Lately I came across an interesting article written by a LUMS student Mahreen Rehman, guys you may disagree or get offended but she has raised an interesting issue.

Missed your ex on valentines day? The deliciously red roses, scrumptious chocolates ‘with love in every bite’? screw you! the truth is, guys are asses! No, literally! You take away the short stubby legs, the poo slobbered tail and add some human limbs and what do you get? VOILA! A guy! Don’t believe me? Let’s do an analysis. Donkeys have fur, guy’s have fur (some girls do too but that’s irrelevant here.). donkeys stink, guys stink. Donkeys are dumb, guys are DUMBER! “oh, sorry was I supposed to call you?”, “am I 3 hours late? was with my boys.” And the list goes on n on.

I guess what I’m trying to establish here is that we, the superior female species, should know better than to fall for dirty,stinky,hairy animals who think its allright to fart anywhere and everywhere they go. Now, you may disagree with me here and argue that your boyfriend or the guys you know are completely different. DO NOT BE FOOLED, na├»ve one. It’s all an act. They may outwardly seem gentlemanly but it is innately embedded in their hard drives to be obnoxious, perverted scum. They look at females like they’re pieces of meat, the more scantily dressed, the tastier and the more team testosterone kicks in. these cave men live by a certain code. They will never, EVER sacrifice their way of life for you so do not believe for one second when a guy looks into your eye and tells you he loves you. he’s probably checking out another girl’s reflection in ur glasses or pupils or whatever. The point is, guys are incapable of having deep emotions for a member of the opposite sex. Rule number one of the “stupid code of idiot guy life” is

Bros before hoes. Isn’t it weird how guys do not talk to each other on the phone for more than 10 minutes but once they meet up, their brains become reprogrammed and develop alzheimer’ic tendencies that cause them to forget that they have a girlfriend who is waiting up for them to get done with whatever it is that guys do when they get together. If, by any miracle a guy DOES remember that he is partially committed (in his view) to a girl and mentions this to his ‘bro’s’, they will either (a) discuss the geometry of her curves, (b) plan something in order to meet her friends and thus have access to more ‘meat’ or (c) make fun of how his girlfriend has him bound under ball and chain (even if the poor girl does not,) to such an extent that they will brainwash him into believing that he is being controlled by his (poor) girlfriend and when he does go back to her, he will most probably fight with and tell her that he has to put his foot down and that he needs more guy time with his friends and that he does not care about whatever she feels or has to say about it.

Secondly, WHAT is with this stupid football craze? You want to play the sport, fine by me. Go with your boys, play, have fun , COME BACK in a couple of hours. DON’T TAKE ALL BLOODY DAY! But what is with this stupid obsession of WATCHING football? Somebody please explain to me the thrill of having your eyes glued to the little ball on screen, following its every motion till you have a twisted neck for 2 hours and then the score is 0-0 ? this football match is then followed by pizza and ofcourse, a competition about who can eat the most pieces without puking FOLLOWED by another competition about who can burp the loudest followed by a public flatulence competition. They think it’s fun and funny and even congratulate each other for it . I mean…seriously? This is the species we want to marry? I’m not suggesting that we all become homosexuals. I am merely pointing out the fact that guys and relationships are over rated and Red Goodbye says it perfectly: “now that I’ve loved and now that I’ve lost, what I feel inside says Shakespeare lied”.

Okay so I might have gone a little over board in criticizing the male species. That wasn’t my intention when I started writing this article but I’m guessing the bitterness took over. The point I initially intended to make was that love is over rated. You get nothing out of it but heart ache and maybe a few stupid gifts and some memories that haunt you forever and ever and eat at your insides like maggots feasting on a dead corpse. Don’t fall for a guy who promises you the moon and the stars and the heavens and the earth and everything in between. You will only end up weeping you r eyes out and look horrible the next day. No amount of concealor and hashmi kajol will have you looking normal. Here’s how it starts, he says he adores you and asks you out. Flattered, you accept. You and your girls spend hours giggling over it on the phone and plan your outfit and everything else down to the minutest detail. He shows up before time and you have the most awesome date ever…roses, expensive restaurant and a guy who’s lost in your eyes…legen..DARY! (courtesy Barney Stinson). He drops you back, nothing can sweep the smile off your face for the next couple of days. He calls you all the time and texts you like crazy. He convinces you that he totally loves you till one day..SNAP! he starts calling you less frequently, doesn’t remember any of the stories you tell him, starts spending more and more time with “thE boys”, and when you confront him, you get the famous “it’s not you, it’s me routine”, in other words, “I’m bored baby, I need a newer version with more features*’ AHEM. So he goes off with his friends to ‘heal’ which lasts till ..hmm…let’s see, 2 mins, and your entire life is snatched away from you, leaving you drowning in your own tears. In the wise words of bart simpson, “ I never thought it was humanly possible, but this both sucks and blows”.

To conclude, Mahreen has raised an interesting question but I want to share guys response;

“What about the woman's tendencies of being overly clingy, whiny, etc? Can you blame men for craving some space? Why does women's life REVOLVE around that expected phone call? And why does everything come crashing down when he suddenly forgets? People need space, and trust me; true love is not a slave to punctual phone calls. Or incessant text messages.

Men DO fall in love, passionately and selflessly, just as women claim to. And they DO go out of their way to please women they truly love. It happens, not just in chick-flicks, but in real life too. As much as you believe that it doesn’t.

And author just seem to have attracted with the wrong sort, friend! She should loosen up a little; she should know that every man is not a moron. Just like every girl is not a whore !!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Elite Business School Gone Anti American!!!!

It was cold night at my Business School dorm in Lahore, thunder, lightening and rain struck the campus but my thoughts were focused on one question “the wave of anti American sentiments across the campus”.

On campus divide between teaching fraternities was evident on the basis of religious & liberal ideals. It is general belief that elite business schools in Pakistan are anti Taliban & they have better understanding of US , West & contemporary political dynamics. Lately I was surprised to see a protest organized by right wing religious party in downtown Lahore for the release of Dr Afia “ lately convicted by an American court”, scores of student of elite business schools participated , chanting anti American slogans along with Jamaat E Islami “ right wing political party” workers.

I am not questioning or taking sides as far as Dr Afia issue is concerned, to me it is worrisome to see elite business school students shoulder to shoulder with the workers of right wing organization. One may agree that it is easier to influence illiterate poor madresaah “religious seminary” students but lament to see educated middle class esp. elite business school students are being influenced by religious right & Imran Khan “an anti west leader of Pakistan Tehreik E Insaf, however married to a rich British girl & lived most of his life in London”.

Today, number of educated youth inspired by an extremist Islamic caliphate revivalist TV anchor Mr Zahid Hamid.
I believed that in Pakistan, middle class is change agent but they are falling pray to Islamic apologetic rhetoric and being inspired by Military & religious right.

I literally am into deep thoughts & fail to find answers to questions, does right wing politics provide answers or solutions to these elite youth or provide a vision or direction about future. Similarly most of the young pop singers have gone apologetic, pro Taliban & ironically they have influence over our youth.

During my recent US IVLP trip & interactions in US I got the feeling that US State Department wants to reach out to Muslims through dialogue & cultural interaction. Obamas Cairo speech and recent Farah Pandith visit, "USs newly appointed Special Representative for Muslim Communities” convinced us that US is interested in reaching out to Muslim world & serious in addressing the issue of extremism.

It is high time for US to reach out to middle class youth in Pakistan; to me they are unconsciously falling pray to extremists. Middle class may not wage war but moral support & anti American feelings may strengthen the case of religious right.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Brand New World!!!

Brands are becoming a new lingua franca for consumers all over the globe. One may like or dislike, brands are reality and no one can scape. Well, there are people around us including me prefer brands because it is all about quality. To an extent it is true, if more people buy brands better the quality becomes. Price equates quality and brand competition means continuous improvement.

We are becoming so global, in spite of our likes or dislikes, it is a reality, falling trade barriers to regional trade integration, movement of people to telecom and internet boom. World is becoming truly a village, more we get connected more we become global citizen sharing common culture. Many people at Harvard University believe that "consumers look to global brands as symbols of cultural ideals. They use brands to create an imagined global identity that they share with like minded people. Global brands make us feel like citizens of the world and they somehow give us an identity".

There are brand skeptics believing that brands are all about western culture but if we look at hundred of brands in terms of their value, Coke is number one "An American Brand" but Nokia, a Finish brand on no 5, Toyota a Japanese brand on no 8, Mercedes a German brand on no 12, Honda a Japanese brand on no 18, Samsung, H&M, Nescafe, SAP, IKEA, Sony, Canon, Nintendo, Reuters, Philips, L’Oreal, Siemens, Zara, VW, Nestle, Adidas, Blackberry, Rolex, UBS, Panasonic, Cartier, Allianz, BP, Nivea, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Lexus, Puma and Burberry all are non American brands.

Click here for best global brands list.

We have to live in a global village and brands are reality, major question comes, it is fine brands are all about quality, they also create a global culture but the need of the hour is how much socially responsible organizations are??

To make world a better place, NGOs, consumers and human rights organizations' role has become more critical along with media. We have to collectively act as watchdog and consumers can use their buying power to punish socially irresponsible brands through product boycott.

Let me share an interesting story about anti globalization and anti brand crowd, the other day I watched a video, most of the protesting guys were wearing branded shirts, Levis Trousers, Swiss Backpack, Apple iPods, Caterpillar Shoes, Police Glasses, Puma Shoes etc. Similarly anti west clerics in Pakistani helped KFCs Ramadan Iftar deal.

It is need of the hour, we have to be more realistic and practical, on the one hand not ignoring our social responsibility and on the other hand saying no to mindless emotional outcry against brands.