Tag Archives: minds

MIT recognises Pakistani as one of world’s brilliant minds

KARACHI: All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them, says Walt Disney.

Disney’s quote, perhaps, best explains the success story of Farhan Masood, who has been recognised as one of the world’s brilliant minds by Massachusetts Institute of Technology earlier this year for his product – world’s fastest retina and face scanner algorithm called SmartXS.

Masood’s dream – to build a Pakistani product and turn it into a global one – came true this year after he won the MIT Business Acceleration Plan contest, a highly competitive annual event whose objective is to help Pakistani IT, ITES, telecom and new media companies improve their business.

Of the 165 participants that compete in this contest, some members of top teams also get a chance to attend an entrepreneurship development programme at MIT in Cambridge, USA.

After a winning performance in the contest, Masood joined the list of MIT alumni. He has just returned after attending a course at MIT, one of the world’s best educational institutes. Those who attended this programme previously had benefited a great deal.

According to Pakistan Software Export Board’s website, some of the companies that participated in this programme saw their revenues grow by 5 to 10 times and valuation increase by 15 times. Giving the example of Sofizar, the PSEB’s website stated that the company’s revenue increased from less than $1 million to $30 million in two and a half years.

Continue reading MIT recognises Pakistani as one of world’s brilliant minds

American strategy in Afpak

About the US soldier going postal in afghanistan…

By Omar Ali

I wrote this comment on the SWJ site and I just thought it would be interesting to see what people here think of the American “strategy” (or lack of one) in Afghanistan.
The killings today, while tragic and awful, are themselves indicative of nothing new beyond one soldier going nuts…could and does happen in most wars and more likely when a war has stretched on for a while and more likely with soldier and locals being different people (not necessarily different nationalities..pakistani soldiers in Bangladesh or even some Indian soldiers in Kashmir could feel equally surrounded by aliens). It will have a huge propaganda effect though. Anyway, my comment is more about the US strategy: what is it? what should it be? What would it be if you were president?

Continue reading American strategy in Afpak

An outrageous ban – The Express Tribune

The Lahore Bar Association (LBA) has banned Shezan drinks from subordinate court complexes on the basis that it belongs to  Ahmadi

By Editorial

Things in our country are really moving from the absurd, to even more absurd. And most frightening of all is the hatred that flows with this madness. The latest example of this comes at the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) — where lawyers following a campaign led by the Khatme Nabuwat Lawyers Forum — have banned the sale of drinks manufactured by the Shehzan Company from canteens at all subordinate courts on the basis that it is an Ahmadi concern. This action takes discrimination against the Ahmadi community to new heights. We can only wonder if the instigators of this plot imagine that sipping the ‘offensive’ drink will in some way contaminate their minds, or alter beliefs. Everyone, after all, has the right to follow the religious philosophy they adhere to — and no drink can alter this. The real aim, of course, is to attempt to hurt the economic interests of the Ahmadis — who have through the decades been subjected to violence in all kinds of different forums, whether it is through physical acts such as murder or other means intended to prevent them from occupying a place as equal citizens in society. The Shezan Company has also been targeted before, during mob violence and through other such means.

The LBA president has said that around 100 lawyers voted in favour of the decision. It is frightening that a so-called ‘educated community’ of professionals could take a decision such as this. The evil of ignorance has obviously sunk deep within our society, leaving scars everywhere. The knives which inflict these wounds are carried by groups dedicated to spreading intolerance and campaigning against the minorities. The Ahmadis, of course, draw the special wrath of the forces committed to acting against them. When professionals such as lawyers, who should know more about justice than most, join hands with them, we can only wonder about the future of our country and ask what grim abyss we are headed for. The direction we have set out in does not augur well for the coming years — with this move also certain to hurt Ahmadi lawyers who practice at lower courts.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2012.

 http://tribune.com.pk/story/335000/an-outrageous-ban/

Sindh and Balochistan’s Issues are not the same as in the Islamic Republic of Punjab

Interview of Naseer Memon was conducted by “DUNYA” TV in the aftermath of a large gathering addressed by President Asif Zardari.

Translation by Khalid Hashmani

Excerpt of Interview;

The interview was conducted by “DUNYA” News Tv in the aftermath of a large gathering [Benazir’s aniversary rally in Garahi Khuda Buksh made PTI-Imran’s tsunami seen like a wall of jelly] addressed by President Asif Zardari in Garahi Yasin, near Larkano in Sindh. The interviewer wanted to know whether or not other political parties are making any headway into the minds and hearts of Sindhis. Naseer Memon sahib, as you can see in the video explains that people should not be misled by the number of people attending political gatherings. As the previous elections have shown that in Sindh and the rest of the Pakistan, the size of vote banks is not the same as the size of crowd attending a political rally. Often people attend the rallies of one political party but do not vote for them. Also, Sindhis may criticize PPP on not delivering on some of its commitments, it does not mean that they will not vote for it.

Memon sahib says that things that excite people in Punjab like Nuclear bombs and religious supremacy are not the main concerns of Sindhis. He adds that most Sindhis think that it is the expenses associated with nuclear bombs and military that are keeping people of Pakistan under poverty. He challenged the interviewer to find even one writing by a Sindhi intellectual that would praise ZAB’s words that “Pakistanis will eat grass but will make a nuclear bomb” even though otherwise he is considered one of their greatest hero. Naseer also points that most Sindhis want a secular form of government as the large minorities of Hindus, Christian and others live peacefully in Sindh. They are least excited by slogans of Islamic  state.

Commenting on the performance of PPP in Sindh, he said people are quite angry because of the decaying of infrastructure (roads, bridges, transportation, etc.) and education and health services outside of Karachi. They abhor increasing corruption of PPP officials and want a quick end to it. He also criticized poor response of the government to recent floods in Sindh. He concluded that people are asking these questions from PPP. He warns PPP that they should not take Sindhi people’s grievances lightly lest they may be left with no Sindh card.

Courtesy: Duniya News TV with Javed Iqbal » YouTube

Limits to Imran’s magic

By Haider Nizamani

SPEECHES made at the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) rally in Karachi on Dec 25 were a perfect “motley mixture of high-sounding phrases … [and] adherence to the old routine”. It will hardly endear Imran Khan and his party to ordinary Sindhi and Baloch publics.

The issues speakers zeroed in on and the topics they did not touch upon offer an interesting insight into the ethos of the PTI and how out of touch it is with the Sindhi and Baloch political pulse. Both in terms of content and form there was little on offer for Sindhis and the Baloch in the vicinity of Jinnah`s mausoleum.

Start with what Imran Khan had to say about Balochistan. He quite correctly, and I am assuming sincerely, apologised to the Baloch for the wrongs done to them. Who was he apologising as? Was he doing it as a Punjabi? If so, he did not make it obvious. Nawaz Sharif did the same in a meeting with Sardar Ataullah Mengal only a few days back. Instead of echoing what Nawaz Sharif had said to Sardar Mengal, Imran Khan should have paid attention to the veteran Baloch leader`s response in which he considered such apologies hollow and minced no words in conveying to Mr Sharif that the Baloch youth viewed the army as a Punjabi army and not a national one.

Unless politicians from Punjab are willing and capable to rein in the army there is little hope of winning over the hearts and minds of the people of Balochistan. Imran Khan`s answer to Baloch alienation is to bring `development` to the province. Mention `development` to a Baloch and she/he immediately thinks of boots on the ground and men in khaki hunting down Baloch nationalists. `Development` in the Baloch perception means systematic exploitation of Balochistan`s natural resources and a denial of political rights spanning half a century.

Imran Khan quite naively invoked West Germany`s example of helping East Germany in the reunification of the two. He wants to play West Germany to Balochistan, conveniently forgetting that it was the East Germans who brought the Berlin Wall down to be one with their West German brothers.

In the case of Balochistan, the situation is almost the exact opposite where there is an ever-increasing aspiration to get out of Pakistan instead of an urge to be part of it. When it comes to Sindh, the PTI bowled, to use Imran Khan`s favourite cricketing analogy, a wide on Sindhis in both form and content. topi

Let us look at the form first. The team that Imran Khan chose to surround himself with on the stage did not even have a token Sindhi among them. Sindhis have not patented the Sindhi (cap) and it would have done no harm to adorn one when attempting to put up a mega political show in Sindh.

If you are going to punctuate speeches with songs then not having any Sindhi song on the playlist only sends a wrong message. Whether or not you appreciate Shah Abdul Latif`s poetry, it is customary to pay tribute to Latif when politicking in Sindh.

`Tsunami` may be a nice and thunderous word elsewhere but in the coastal areas of Sindh people associate it with misery not merriment. The list of such symbolic follies is too long for a newspaper column.

In terms of content there was little that Sindhis could identify with but a lot that would keep the PTI on the political margins in the province.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi`s speech was, again using cricket analogy, akin to Misbah-ul-Haq`s innings against India in the 2011 World Cup semi-final. Misbah scored only 17 runs during the first 42 balls he faced thus contributing to the cost incurred by Pakistan.

Qureshi did the same for Imran Khan in Karachi as far as PTI`s immediate fortunes in Sindh are concerned. Qureshi chose to play the nuclear nationalism card and accuse President Asif Zardari of being not as strong a nuclear nationalist as an ideal Pakistani president should be. He went on to educate, or rather bore, those attending with concepts such as no-first-use, Cold Start and asymmetric warfare.

The speech sounded more like a pitch to secure the slot of foreign minister in any future government than connecting with the masses in Sindh. Simply put, you don`t talk about that stuff in public rallies in Sindh. It finds little resonance with Sindhis.

Imran Khan was equally off the mark if one purpose of the show was to win the support of Sindhis. His road map was a motley of generalities guided by political naivety that made him look up to England as a model welfare state when he first set foot there as a teenager.

His solutions to complex socioeconomic and political issues are sought in simple steps like computerising the land records because a computer does not accept bribe or aspiration to provide free legal advice to 80 per cent of the population.

And no such talk is complete without customary tribute to Lee Kuan Yew`s ways of `developing` the tiny island of Singapore. These propositions resonate with the urban middle classes of Punjab and possibly Karachi but have little to do with various segments of the Sindhi population.

For Imran Khan the only hurdle in the way of exploiting coal deposits in the desert Sindh may be the law and order situation in Karachi but for Sindhis the issue is more complex and requires provinces having a greater say and decision-making powers when it comes to natural resources.

Imran Khan and his party have an attractive platform for the urban middle classes of Punjab but his slogans have little appeal where the Baloch and Sindhi political path is concerned, at least for now.

The writer is a Canada-based author. hnizamani@hotmail.com

Courtesy » DAWN.COM

http://www.dawn.com/2011/12/27/limits-to-imrans-magic.html

Catch 22 for Pakistan’s left

– by Nayyer Khan

I do not expect a balanced outlook from a common man in Pakistan who lives behind a smoke screen created by Urdu press and brain washed through 60 years of antagonistic indoctrination against the non-Muslim world, except China. However, the views of old friends from left Wing (now liberals mostly associated with NGOs or civil society) and laissez-faire intelligentsia astonish me. The old cult is still deep seated in their minds, in which America takes the position of the devil. They go so far in their prejudice against America that they lose their ability to pick the lesser of the two evils.

I fully agree to the universal rule that my enemy’s enemy is my friend, yet the issue is to identify who the current enemy is. It is a well established fact that a smaller but irrational enemy is much more dangerous than a bigger yet rational enemy. Hence the later becomes a friend when an irrational enemy is the immediate threat. …

Read more → ViewPoint

Britain: Royal wedding exposes deep class divisions

by Alan Woods

On Friday 29 April the people of Britain will be invited to participate in the joyful celebration of the marriage of Mr. William Windsor and Ms. Katherine Middleton. At the same time that the government is cutting billions from unnecessary extravagances such as hospitals, schools, teachers, nurses, the old and the sick, the unemployed and single parents, the Coalition has had the good sense to spend a lot of money on something as essential to the Public Good as the nuptials of Willy and Kate.

One can see many advantages in this. At a time of falling living standards for everyone who is not either a member of the royal family or a banker, it can take the minds of the British public off unpleasant thoughts of unpaid debts and unemployment. It might even make them forget the recent mass demonstration that brought half a million of them onto the streets of London to protest the vicious cuts being implemented by the ruling Conservative-Lib-Dem Coalition. …

Read more : Marxist.com

Let us strengthen Pakistan

Let us Unite to Uphold 18th Amendment including Devolution of HEC

By Khalid Hashmani

As more and more information comes out in the waning days of Higher Education Commission (HEC), most Sindhis are shocked to know that out of ten thousands (10,000) foreign and domestic scholarships that have been distributed by HEC so far, Sindh received only 892 (http://ejang.jang.com.pk/4-7-2011/Karachi/pic.asp?picname=99.gif). This amounts to about one third of the number that Sindh would have received even if the NFC award rules were applied. There is no province/ state or ethnic group anywhere in the world that has suffered as much as Sindhis have when it comes to scholarship opportunities in Pakistan. Instead of defending an institution that has denied Sindhis their due share in educational opportunities for so many years, we should be demanding trial of those officials who were responsible for denying Sindh its due share in scholarships. It is doubtful that an agency of such dreadful performance should even be given a role of standard setting and quality assurance. The Government of Pakistan should seriously consider creating a new agency with proper representation from each province/ state to oversee the jurisdictions that 18th Amendment allows at the federal level.

Continue reading Let us strengthen Pakistan

Many in Pakistan Fear Unrest at Home

By JANE PERLEZ

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Protests over crippling prices and corrupt leadership are sweeping much of the Islamic world, but here in Pakistan this week, the government blithely dismissed any threat to its longevity or to the country’s stability.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani insisted that Pakistan was not Egypt or Tunisia. “Our institutions are working and democracy is functional,” he said. The economy, while under pressure, is not in crisis.

But while Mr. Gilani appeared unruffled, diplomats, analysts and other Pakistani officials admitted to unease, and conceded that Pakistan contained many of the same ingredients for revolt found in the Middle East — and then some: an economy hollowed out by bad management and official corruption; rising Islamic religious fervor; and a poisonous resentment of the United States, Pakistan’s biggest financial supporter.

If no one expects Pakistan to be swept by revolution this week, the big question on many minds is how, and when, a critical mass of despair among this nation’s 180 million people and the unifying Islamist ideology might be converted into collective action.

Some diplomats and analysts compare the combustible mixture of religious ideology and economic frustration, overlaid with the distaste for America, to Iran in 1979. Only one thing is missing: a leader.

“What’s lacking is a person or institution to link the economic aspirations of the lower class with the psychological frustration of the committed Islamists,” a Western diplomat said this week. “Our assessment is: this is like Tehran, 1979.”

Mr. Gilani is right in that Pakistan held fairly free elections three years ago, when the democratically based Pakistan Peoples Party, led by President Asif Ali Zardari, won.

But the return to civilian government after a decade of military rule has meant little to the people because politicians have done nothing for voters, said Farrukh Saleem, a risk analyst and columnist in The News, a daily newspaper.

As it has been for all of Pakistan’s more than 60 years of history, Parliament today remains dominated by the families of a favored few, who use their perch to maintain a corrupt patronage system and to protect their own interests as Pakistan’s landed and industrial class. The government takes in little in taxes, and as a result provides little in the way of services to its people.

“Ninety-nine percent of Pakistanis are not affected by the state — it doesn’t deliver anything for them,” Mr. Saleem said. “People are looking for alternatives. So were the Iranians in 1979.”

There is little question that the images from Egypt and Tunisia are reverberating through Pakistani society, and encouraging workers to speak up and vent frustration in ways that were unusual even three months ago.

“There’s no electricity, no gas, no clean water,” said Ali Ahmad, a hotel worker in Lahore who is usually a model of discretion. “I think if things stay the same, people will come out and destroy everything.”

When a young banker in a prestigious job at a foreign bank was asked if Pakistan could go the way of Egypt, he replied, “I hope so.”

At the core of Pakistan’s problem are the wretched economic conditions of day-to-day life for most of the people whose lives are gouged by inflation, fuel shortages and scarcity of work.

They see the rich getting richer, including “the sons of rich, corrupt politicians and their compatriots openly buying Rolls-Royces with their black American Express cards,” said Jahangir Tareen, a reformist politician and successful agricultural businessman.

Food inflation totaled 64 percent in the last three years, according to Sakib Sherani, who resigned recently as the principal economic adviser at the Finance Ministry. The purchasing power of the average wage earner has declined by 20 percent since 2008, he said.

Families are taking children out of school because they cannot afford both fees and food. Others choose between medicine and dinner.

A middle-class customer in a pharmacy in Rawalpindi, the city where the powerful army has its headquarters, told the pharmacist last week to sell him only two pills of a course of 10 antibiotics because he did not have enough money for groceries. …

Read more : The New York Times

THE ROLE OF THE STATE: DEMOCRACY, DICTATORSHIP, AND EXTREMISM

SOUTH ASIAN PERSPETIVE ON REGIONAL STABILITY

THE ROLE OF THE STATE: DEMOCRACY, DICTATORSHIP, AND EXTREMISM

South Asia is an intricate web of diverse cultures and socio-political systems with a history of invasions and colonialism. While the invading armies of Greeks, Persians, Arabs, and Mongols have left their mark on the land and its peoples; it was the European colonial powers, particularly the British that gave the region its modern political outlook and the problems that come with it. The departure of British colonial power with the division of subcontinent along communal lines ushered new era of unending disputes and tensions. The region is now the hub of global terrorism, extremism, and militarism.

ICFPD is hosting a full day discourse on the questions of extremism, terrorism, and conflicts that have plagued South Asia and the neighbouring areas for decades. We are inviting the best minds to investigate and examine the correlation between state politics, extremism, and terrorism. Analysing the role of state in advancing or curbing extremism and terrorism is often underestimated or downplayed and requires careful examination to understand possible options and barriers in dealing with it. Political systems, functioning democracy, and military dictatorships play a significant role in either confronting or promoting armed conflicts and insurgencies based on the nature and the interests of the states involved.

Speakers: Bob Rae, MP Libral (Farmar Premier of Ontario), Tarek Fatah political activist, writer, and broadcaster, Derek Lee, MP Libral, Kamran Bokhari, Hans Bathija, Dr. Zafar Boluch, Senge Sering (Gilgit Baltistan National Congress)

For more information : ICFPD