Lahore at its best

[This image by Rahat Dar of The News]

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Trees of Lahore

Until the 1970s some one hindered and sixty species of birds were listed in Lahore. While the city had such green spaces as Lawrence Gardens, Aitchison College, the cantonment and Model Town, farm and forest on the outskirts began where Defence Society or Allama Iqbal Town and the innumerable societies now sprawl in south and east Lahore. Also, houses along main thoroughfares were constructed on plots of four or five thousand square yards or more, giving every residence a large garden with trees, shrubbery and flowers.
The conversion of suburban farm, forest and scrub land to housing estates led to large scale deforestation. Over the years it was observed that not just government agencies, but private developers as well as individual home owners are clearly repulsed by trees. The first thing anyone does is remove the forest cover, even when the trees do not get in the way of construction. Wherever indigenous forest was destroyed, the grid of new roads was bordered with eucalyptus.
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The Lahore that I grew up in was a great place

I grew up in Lahore. All my life I lived here except for the seven years in the army and ten in Karachi. I returned again in December 1988 and have lived here since. I knew a Lahore that was a very beautiful city. It was a city of people who ere cultured, courteous and with a sense of humour that was sharp without being vulgar. This was a city of the most magnificent Mughal buildings and gardens. It was also a city where you could actually get into the countryside without going anywhere. The urban sprawl of what is now Johar town was a place of mango orchards and fields where one could hear the song of more than a hundred different species of birds.

Lahore was a city where the gates of your house were always open, except when you turned in for the night. It was a city where armed robbery or rape was unknown. Lahore was where a traffic accident did not mean you were lynched. It meant people got out of their cars and quietly resolved who was to pay for the damages. Here a young man and woman could walk hand in hand without being accused of ‘obscenity and vulgarity’.


Odysseus Lahori

Fellow of Royal Geographical Society, Salman Rashid is author of several books including jhelum: City of the Vitasta and The Apricot Road to Yarkand, Riders on the Wind, Between two Burrs on the Map, Prisoner on a Bus and Sea Monsters and the Sun God. He is the only Pakistani to have seen the North Face of K-2 and trekked in the shadow of this great mountain. His work – explorations, history, travel writings – appears in almost all leading publications. Salman Rashid blogs here.

Odysseus was a very simply choice, says Salman Rashid, “He travelled, either driven by storms or by his will to discover strange and wonderful lands where he met all sorts of people. Though I never met a Cyclops, I too have travelled to wonderful places across the length and breadth of Pakistan. The Odyssey lasted twenty years, mine is still ongoing – though it is not in one stretch and there is no danger of returning home and not being recognized by anyone. It was Odysseus’ spirit of adventure that made me adopt him name.”

Follow Salman Rashid on Twitter, also find on facebook.


Lahore Metro – Pros, Cons & Perceptions

A state of the art metro bus system – brand new and unique in Pakistan – should make every Lahori proud of their city today.

A lot has been written and said about this system. And as is the case with almost everything in Pakistan, the points of views are poles apart. Many people regard this project as a major infrastructure breakthrough, while many call it excessive and useless.

More often than not, both sides have politically affiliated, if not motivated, line of reasoning.

I do not have a political affiliation. I have also not personally researched much on this project. Hence I will not endeavor to put forward my own take on it right now. I will, however, attempt to summarize the arguments I hear from both sides, and will point out some obvious flaws in both sides of arguments, wherever i can. Maybe this stirs up some constructive conversation on this mega project on this site. (i.e. if many people still visit this site!).

So lets start with arguments against this project:
a) It is excessive. Lahore doesn’t need such an elaborate transit system. Just some investment in usual buses would have been enough.
Flaw in the argument: For a city of almost 1 Crore people, no investment in infrastructure can be termed ‘too big’… we desperately needed good infrastructure and commute system. Agreed lahore is already much better off than rest of the cities in Pakistan in terms of roads etc. but that doesn’t mean we cannot/should not do more.

b) Money spent here could have been used for education, healthcare, anything else.
Flaw in the argument: Infrastructure is as important as other necessities. It is the backbone of the economy. Also, while everyone has limited funds, a choice in basics (which includes infrastructre) cannot be termed as a wrong choice. e.g. what would you do with good education, when you cannot provide a robust economy to your educated people to prosper in.

c) Maybe some corruption?
Flaw in the argument: I don’t know. No strong supporting argument / evidence has been put forward (at least I haven’t come across any) in this front.

Arguments in favor of this project:
a) It will modernize Lahore.
Flaw in the argument: Obviously it will not. Just one transport system alone wouldn’t do the trick, specially if many other basic necessities are not there yet, including energy/electricity, law & order and not to forget cleanliness.

b) The project will make Lahore an economic hub
Flaw in the argument: Lahore already is an economic hub in the region. While the project makes things easier, it wouldn’t suddenly spur new economic activity from near and far. THAT will happen only if a wholesome economic program covering all the bases is launched

c) The project makes lahore commuting easy and cheaper
Flaw in the argument: Yet to be seen; how much burden these busses will / can take. Would it move some segment of population away from private cars to busses? Would the busses continue to run efficiently. Would the project be managed well?

Too early to make a final call… Any comments?


A post after very many years

Its been an astonishingly long time since I last wrote for this site. In fact an astonishingly long time, since I even actually visited this site. Don’t even know who from the days past is still here, who is where, and who is gone. A lot of water has… wait, the entire bridge has been replaced by a newer bridge…. Life goes on nonetheless.

SO I decided to pick up from where I conveniently left… to maybe write a literary gem or two… about my beloved city of Lahore… :)

Even though I don’t live in Lahore… but i know where it is… and that makes me a true Lahori!

So watch this space :)


Hibernation

Hi fellow citizens and Lahoris. I’m finding it difficult to believe how I have managed to let nearly 5 years slip by since my last post!

Hassan and co. – hope you all have been well.

Promise to be back soon with yet another thought provoking piece.

Peace-


Lahori Kulfi

Lahori Kulfi
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Towards Accelerated Economic Growth in Pakistan – Its NeedandFeasibility

The Lahore School of Economics will be hosting its Eighth Annual Conference on Management of the Pakistan Economy on May 16-17, 2012 at its Main Burki campus. The focus of the Conference will be Towards Accelerated Economic Growth in Pakistan: Its Need and Feasibility. The discussion on “means and channels” through which accelerated growth could be sustained will include international competitiveness, regional trade relations as stimulus to economic growth, and promotion of investment activity and enterprise development.

The Conference will encompass seven sessions over the two days with each session focusing on a major theme for accelerated economic growth. The sessions on 16th May will focus on A Heterodox Strategy for Stabilisation and Economic Growth, Economic Growth-Employment-Poverty Nexus, International Competitiveness for Sustainable Growth and International Perspectives. The areas covered in the sessions on the second day of the Conference include Pakistan’s Strategic Importance and its Trade Relations, Immediate Constraints and Longer-Term Triggers for Economic Growth and Making Provincial Devolution Work. The conference will end with a panel discussion on the Key conclusions from the Conference.

The Conference will bring together distinguished economists, academicians and policymakers from both the national and the international spheres. Some of the notable speakers include Dr. Ashwani Saith, Professor, Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam; Dr. Rashid Amjad, Vice Chancellor, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics; Dr. Irfan Ul Haque, Special Advisor, Financing for Development, South Centre, Geneva; Dr. S. Akbar Zaidi, Visiting Professor, School of International Public Affairs, Columbia University; Dr. Moazam Mahmood, Director, Economic and Labour Market Analysis Department, International Labour Office; Dr. Matthew McCartney, Lecturer, Wolfson College, University of Oxford; Dr.Ijaz Nabi, Country Director, International Growth Centre, Pakistan; Dr. Hafeez Pasha, Dean, School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, BNU; Mr. Asad Umar, Former CEO Engro Corp; Dr Kamal Munir, Senor Lectutrer in Strategy, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, Dr Syed M. Turab Hussain, Assistant Professor, School Humanities and Social Sciences, LUMS; and Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Dean and Director, Institute of Business Studies. Read more
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Dolls, Toys and More launched

Dolls, Toys and More by S A J Shirazi was launched in Lahore on April 28, 2012. here is a foreword by Khalid Javaid, the Executive Director, Lok Virsa

Pakistan’s folk culture is a living tradition practiced by a dominant majority of its people. Pakistanis, therefore do not have to go looking for folklore, it is all over. In fact, it is so common place that an average rural Pakistani may have no awareness whatsoever of his folkloric culture and the richness of his folk heritage, just like a fish in water.

Pakistan with its rich and varied heritage has a craft tradition of more than 9,000 years dating back to the Mehergarh civilization in the Balochistan province which reveals the earliest evidence for pottery production. The Indus valley civilizations of Moenjodaro in Sindh and Harappa in Punjab, 5,000 B.C. indicates impressions of woven cloth production from cotton and wool. The dominant historical influence still to be seen in the form, design and colour of Pakistani handicrafts is essentially Islamic, a fusion of Turkish, Arab, Persian and the indigenous Mughal tradition. Read more

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Why I have moved to sajshirazi.com

I’ve been blogging for long time now but have never really, until last week, looked into “buying own domain.” I have been using Blogger, and always assumed that “I am doing at BlogSpot what others are doing with own domains. It did fine for me. Was I handicapped?

Friends and fellow bloggers have been telling me that getting your own domain name is a must for a long time. Reasons: You don’t really own your Blogger blog (as per Blogger’s ToS, the domain and the platform are properties of Google though you own content). And it has serious consequences. Having your own domain gives you more credibility (and yes, an ego boost – sajshirazi.com looks much better). And of course it gives you more flexibility.

Above all else, here is another reason. Those who are looking forward to making money from blogs now need own domain. Initially BlogSpot used to be the best way to get your adsense account approved, but later now it’s getting harder to get your adsense account with blogspot. News is that Google may pull down all adsense account on BlogSpot blogs any time. Similarly other paid posting platforms are also offering less and less on free platform blogs.

While I move to sajshirazi.com, I owe big thanks to all my awesome readers. Many thanks to you all for reading, sharing, liking and leaving valuable feedback that kept me going since 2003. Do please come and join me there. Internet (and blogging) is so lonely without friends.

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Future of Blogging as a Profession in Pakistan

Blogging is a way to express one’s thought. it is probably the best thing happened to human society since the invention of printing press. Blogging takes many forms.

It can be as simple as twitter account, tweeting micro blogs. It can be a facebook update. It can be a free blog on wordpress, blogger or even tumblr. It can be as complex as having your own domain and hosting with a Content Management System.

Some take it even further and have a whole network of websites and blogs. (some folks also include mass SMS as a form of blogging) Whatever form a blog may have, Its basic idea is simple. It is to communicate what is happening around us and our opinion and feelings about it.

Blogging was seen as political/economic threat

Blogging , when it starts reporting on current issues, steps on toes of some existing institutions and professions. These institutions (media houses, newspapers, information cells of governments)  enjoyed either a monopoly or  some degree of control over the information and its presentation to masses. With introduction of Blogging in equation, they no longer enjoy same degree of control over their most important commodity. Information! Read more


Lahore School Convocation 2012

S A J Shirazi

Lahore School of Economics’ Ninth Annual Convocation was held at the main campus on Jan 14, 2012. Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, the Governor Punjab conferred degrees and awards to 809 graduating students of MPhil, MS Economics, MSc Economics (11), Masters in Business Administration (180), BSc Economics, Bachelors of Business Administration (600) and Master of Business Administration (Executive). Sardar Latif Khosa lauded the role of Lahore School of Economics in core specilization of Economics, Finance, Business Administration and related fields of studies including Social Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics, Environment, Media Studies and Art and Design. The Governor also notes the Lahore School of Economics Research Program that is focused on improving the economic well being of the people of Pakistan. Read more

Second Annual Pakistan Blog Award 2011

Set aside the usual blogosphere buzz, rabid trolls, rants and ramblings and you will notice that the Pakistan blogosphere has matured into a wider and more dynamic community. Associated with blogging since it started in Pakistan, I have gladly followed the rise. Given my personal love for those who have been doing a good job blogging different subject and addicting the local context and content online, I have been pointing out top Pakistan blogs, bloggers and the post every year at Light Within. It is such a difficult task to sift through the burgeoning Pakistani blogosphere and pick out the best.
Thanks to CIO Pakistan, IDG got together with Google Pakistan that they launched the Annual Pakistan Blog Awards in 2010. The award has become an annual feature and all Pakistani bloggers and readers to look forward to. This year, blogs related to Pakistan either through the topic, language or audience can context in Pakistan Blog Award 2011. The theme for 2011 is “Colors of Pakistan: Celebrating the New Media Spaces” and it aptly shows on the blog award site. Nomination will close by Monday morning (November 21, 2011). Voting will continue through November 25, 2011.

Lahore School Blog has been nominated here. Show your support for the blog by voting, rating and or leaving comments. Look for golden little star and click on the last one. Your vote is done. Check the image below for more help. Also leave your comments at the bottom of the page. Your comment and feedback matters a great deal.

Click here to vote
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Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum Pakistan Conference 2011

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