Governor Salman Taseer assassinated

UPDATE: Around 27 bullets have been removed from Salman Taseer’s dead body. One of his security guards, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, opened fire at him from a distance of 4-5 feet, as he was sitting in his car after having meal at a cafe.

Pakistan Peoples Party has cancelled all events celebrating Zulfiqar Bhutto’s birthday and declared two weeks of mourning. The Punjab Government has announced a local holiday for tomorrow across Punjab as things become tense in Lahore. All roads leading to the Governor’s House in Lahore have been sealed. There was extreme panic amongst people in Lahore and other cities as everyone closed down shops and rushed back home anticipating violent protests by PPP jayalas.

Salman Taseer’s body will be driven or flown back to Lahore tonight where his Namaz-e-Janaza will be said at the Governor’s House on Wednesday.

—————————-

Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer has just been assassinated in Islamabad. According to media reports, Taseer died of bullet wounds when his car was fired upon at the capital’s Kohsaar Market.

Governor Punjab, Salman Taseer

Considering the reputation and temper of PPP jayalas, it is very likely that there might be violent protests and demonstrations in the city. People in Lahore are highly advised to take extra precaution and preferably stay at home till things become clear.


Winter’s first rain purifies Lahore

Egerton Road after first rain of the season - Lahore, December 30, 2010

See more pictures here: Mystic Misty Lahore

Egerton Road skyline - Lahore, December 30, 2010


Gear up & Grab your Camera – FiLUMS 2011 is here

Film, whether amateur, commercial or art, is one of the most powerful media in terms of depicting a society’s values and current thinking. From Hollywood to Bollywood to Iranian cinema, this medium has been used to highlight issues pertinent to a society’s existence while many a time, also used as a tool for propaganda and diplomacy.

With the fall of Pakistani cinema from grace over the years, there have been a few platforms for amateur film-makers to experiment and present their art to a thinking audience. Kara Film Festival was a beacon of hope that, to some extent, brought Pakistani artists, directors and documentary makers into limelight. While an impressive achievement in its own right, Kara is still far off to many amateur artists who cannot afford the budget or time to cope with the frenzy of such a film festival.

Then came FiLUMS; the landmark event of LUMS Media Arts Society, that provided a reachable platform to budding film-makers regardless of their backgrounds, nature of subjects of interest and any budgetary constraints. Since it’s inception in 2006, FiLUMS has been a regular occurrence that grows even bigger and better with each passing year.

This year, FiLUMS is gearing to be the biggest and the best to date with entries from as far as Turkey, Serbia, Abu Dhabi, Ireland and the United States. Along with film premiers and screenings, the three-day festival (February 11 – 13, 2011) will feature workshops and talks judged by the likes of Adeel Hashmi, Ayesha Khan, Omar Khan, Bilal Lashari, Fasi Zaka, Syed Noor, Adil Sher and many more.

Highlight of the event will be the award night at the third and final day of the festival on February 13, 2011.

Participation Procedure:

“Participants can register through the revolutionary submission system, known as Withoutabox (a division of IMDb), which is used by major festivals around the world. Alternatively, they can also register through our Standard Procedure, where participants are required to fill in a brief Online Registration Form available on the website by 15th January 2011. Once your film is ready, download the Submission Details Form and submit it to subform@filums.com.pk. Finally, the submission DVD’s of the participants must reach us before 1st February 2011.”

Categories:

– Short Films

– Animations

– Documentaries

– Feature Length Films

– Any other creative exception

Festival Proceedings:

Refer to the FiLUMS schedule here.

Contacts:

Website: http://www.filums.com.pk

Register for FiLUMS at: http://www.filums.com.pk/register

Email at: info@filums.com.pk

Call for Registrations and Submissions at: +92-347-5189196

Facebook Support Group: http://www.filums.com.pk/facebook

Follow FiLUMS at Twitter: http://twitter.com/filums2011


Lahore School Convocation – 2010

The Lahore School of Economics’ Eighth Annual Convocation was held at the main campus on December 4, 2010. Dr. Shahid Amjad Chaudhry, the Rector Lahore School of Economics conferred degrees and awards to 850 graduating students of MPhil, MS Economics, MSc Economics, Masters in Business Administration, BSc Economics, Bachelors of Business Administration and Master of Business Administration (Executive) and Masters of Business Administration (Professional).

The Lahore School of Economics, chartered in 1997, has grown to become a mature institution of higher learning. This is reflected in its present strength of 181 faculty and 3154 students – 2741 Undergraduate, 339 Postgraduate and 74 MPhil / PhDs candidates – in Economics, Business Administration, Social Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics, Environmental Sciences and Media Studies, Art and Design. Read more


When Lahore misses Lahoris…

Lahore is a huge metropolis of around 8 to 10 million people today and it keeps on growing by every minute. A vast pie of this population comprises of migrants from other parts of Punjab and Pakistan. There are hundreds of thousands of people who come to ‘Dil walon ka Shehar’ in search of jobs, education, better opportunities and an urban flavor unmatched in the north of the country. All of this gives Lahore a flavor of diversity – all blended into the Lahori way of life as you just have to spend a few years in Lahore to become a Lahori at heart.

The demographic profile of the city’s immigrant population means that a lot of people have families and relatives residing in other parts of the province. Each holiday season, millions of Lahoris flee the city to spend vacations with their families in villages and other cities. Two Eids being the biggest Islamic holidays are the times when you see a mass-exodus of people heading out of the city just to come back a night before the vacation’s over.

If you happen to be a part of that crowd or just visit the railway station, lorry addas or bus terminals, you’ll see happy faces longing to see their loved ones while climbing onto any available and affordable means of transport. There’s a dad who’s carrying presents for his kids in village; there’s a student carrying his meager belongings in a backpack hanging on to the overcrowded entrance of a Bedford bus.  Then, there’s a group of white collar office employees, dressed in white shirts and black trousers with a laptop bag, albeit empty, waiting in queue at the New Khan or Faisal Movers ticket counter. Gourmet lafafas are usually a constant at all places of boarding buses, lorries, trains, rickshaws, APVs or Qingqis.. Babus prefer Daewoo or even better, an aeroplane ride to their hometowns. To take advantage of an improved bargaining position, transporters usually increase the fares handsomely and the passengers have no choice but to comply. Not to mention huge gridlocks of traffic outbound on G.T. Road, Motorway and up/down national railway grid.

In short, it’s an interesting phenomenon to witness so many Lahoris leaving the town they love for places that they originally belong. I still call them Lahoris for the city derives it’s character from everyone that brings his/her own flavor to share with the spirit of this great city. If you happen to drive by a calm Mall Road or lazy Canal Bank on a Saturday night during Eid holidays without having to press brakes, you get a feeling that…

Lahore’s missing its Lahoris… :)


People’s Bulls at Mall Road!

People's Bulls at Mall Road


‘Unleashing Change’ with the Revolutionaries of Pakistan – TiECon 2010

All three chapters of The Indus Entrepreneurs (Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad) are organizing TiECon 2010 Conference this Saturday at Royal Palms Golf and Country Club, Lahore. The theme this year for TiECon 2010 is ‘Unleashing Change’.

Official promo of TiECon 2010 – ‘Unlashing Change’.

TiECon 2010 - Unleashing Change - Rect

TiECon 2010 Pakistan is an annual flagship event of TiE and it is the first time in history, it is being organized in collaboration with all three TiE Pakistan chapters. As the theme explains, this years event focuses on unleashing the change about Pakistan and its tremendous potential in growth.

At a time when a significant gap exists between the vast opportunities that Pakistan has to offer fearless entrepreneurs and the perception of the country abroad, TiECon 2010 Pakistan brings together global thought leaders on home soil. Together, through the power of ideas, the conference aims to catalyze entrepreneurial minds to unleash change and create opportunity.

The aim is to expose the potential in Pakistani human resource and explore the opportunities for the entrepreneurs of the country. This is how Monis Rahman, CEO of Naseeb Networks was able to win trust of the venture capitalists to get the funds approved for its flagship product Rozee.pk even when the investors had reservations regarding the less known country of the world… Pakistan. Read the story of Rozee.pk and how other successful entrepreneurs are doing good for not only themselves but for their country, at Meet Pakistan’s Real Revolutionaries.

The conference brings together a mix of leading local and international entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders. Collectively they will inspire, motivate and create inertia for change in their respective areas of expertise. This year’s TiECon will be organized into a diverse yet equally critical group of sessions including riveting success stories of entrepreneurs, government as a facilitator of entrepreneurship, the societal need and impact of social entrepreneurship, media’s role as a change agent and creating entrepreneurs through high quality and ubiquitous access to education.

Hosted in Lahore, TiECon 2010 Pakistan will provide delegates with a rich cultural exposure to what is often called South Asia’s cultural capital. The conference agenda incorporates carefully designed segments to sample Lahore’s historical magic, captivating music and infamous cuisine.

TiECon 2010 - Unleashing Change - Banner

The event details are as follows;

Date: Saturday, October 30, 2010
Time: 08:45 AM (sharp) – 06:30 PM.
Venue: Royal Palms Golf and Country Club, Lahore

REGISTER yourself to attend this mega event of the decade at http://www.tiecon2010.pk/register.php. (Seats are limited so HURRY UP!)

The event will be live streamed on the TiECon 2010 website whereas, you can also track the event via Twitter at #tieconpk. The official TiE Twitter account to follow is @tieconpk. If you want to, you can also follow TiECon 2010 on Facebook as well.


Lahore School Carnival

Happening now


Sanjh – an Art exhibition in support of the flood relief efforts

The Sanjh set (101 cards), now part of my collection, proudly sits on my own desk and keeps reminding me of the University of Gujrat but also tells a story of how artists of Pakistan came forward to share the miseries of fellow countrymen in real need by offering their art work that moved people to buy and contributing to the relief efforts. The inspiring act of Sanjh will go a long way and will be remembered in times to come.

Sanjh team approached Pakistani artists and asked them to contribute their work to help flood 2010 victims. The team then arranged an exhibition that was opened by Ms. Salima Hashmi on September 4, 2010, at Alhamra Art Gallery, Lahore, and continued to run until September 10, 2010. Sanjh was well attended by visitors from all walks of life, many of whom were particularly excited about buying quality artworks at extremely affordable prices.

Thanks to the contributing artists – the real donors and champions of this entire fund raising effort as they take home nothing except for their own goodwill in return of beautiful creations that they have selflessly donated for the cause along with the time, money and effort to execute them. On behalf of all flood victims, if I may, more thanks to Zahraa Assad, Saifullah and Zahra Mirza of RetroArts, Foaad Nizam of Danka, and Visual Artists, Imran, Sajjad and Usman for what they did [Also here and here].


P@SHA ICT Awards 2010 – The ‘IT Oscar Night’ for Pakistan

P@SHA ICT Awards 2010 image

Pakistan Software House Association (P@SHA) is organizing P@SHA ICT Awards 2010 in Lahore this October. This is the flagship event of the IT & ITES industry in Pakistan and P@SHA organizes this event annually to celebrate the innovation in local ICT industry. The awards are in its 7th year but it is the first time these awards are being held in Lahore. The awards are given to the winners in 24 different categories who will be judged by a panel of judges from the private and public sector.

Event Details:

The event details are as follows.

Date: 8th October 2010
Time: 6 pm – 11:00 pm
Venue: Silver Bell, Royal Palm Golf & Country Club, Lahore (Location Map)

Registration:

Registration is FREE but COMPULSORY!

Register at http://tinyurl.com/pashaictawards and you’ll receive an email confirmation from P@SHA Secretariat to attend the event.

P@SHA Talent Hunt:

There are other attractions as well. This time P@SHA is also providing an opportunity to those aspiring artists who just need a chance to show off their talent.

If you sing, dance, perform magic tricks or are a great comedian, actor or entertainer, and if you are part of the IT community, P@SHA wants you! Put up a demo of your talent on YouTube before September 20, 2010.

The deadlines are already over but I mentioned it again because if you believe you REALLY are the one.. I repeat, only if.. you are the one; you may want to check Jehan Ara’s post on P@SHA Talent Hunt or visit the official blog to see if you can be considered.

Theme Song:

Another attribute of this event is its official theme song. The theme song for the P@SHA ICT Awards 2010 is Green and White which is produced by P@SHA Chairman Yusuf Jan who also wrote the lyrics.

Finally, the sponsors for this ‘IT Oscar Night for Pakistan‘ are Infotech, Microsoft Pakistan, Wi-tribe Pakistan, IBM, PSEB, Mixit, Intel, Dell Pakistan, Oracle, CIO Pakistan and others.

PS: Jehan Ara termed this event as ‘Our IT Oscar Night‘. :)


Petrol; Where we go from here?

They say money can buy every thing except love. This is not true. You cant buy petroleum even if you have money, at least not in Lahore.

Now petrol is deficient in Pakistan, particularly the situation is getting critical in Lahore. It has been nine days that people are not getting petrol. Auto owners are seen pushing their big big cars with bug big tyers to the closest petrol station where they find “Petrol is Not Available” and find a long queue of cars already waiting for their turn. Today, I was shocked when lined up in one of the longest queue I have seen in life, I saw a very young son pushing a car and an old father steering it to the station. Once they reach the station, they get little quantity of petrol (depending upon the logic and wishes of the petrol station administration).

Lahories are used to different type of shortages! They have experiences and are used to electric shortages, sugar shortages, floor shortages, CNG shortages. But the going gets difficult when they adjust to one shortage and the next starts.

This is not political and you can blame it on any thing but such situations are nothing but lack of responsibility, lack of will and mismanagement. Some one sitting pretty might ask people to ‘live under these difficult times and sacrifice more but I am wondering till when people of Pakistan will keep sacrificing and facing challenges on the name of patriotism. [Also at Light Within]


From the bravest nation on Earth!

Scenes of destruction at the Lahore bomb blasts on September 01, 2010 - Source: Reuters

Around 30 people fell victim to another barbaric act of terrorism involving three bomb blasts on a Shia religious procession in Lahore yesterday. It was the day marking shahadat of Hazrat Ali (R.A.); one of the bravest and dearest companions of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H). Sadly, the beasts have no sanctity for Ramadan, Hazrat Ali (R.A) or even for simple humanity.

According to media reports, more than a 100 people are injured and being treated at different hospitals of the city. May the souls of the departed rest in eternal peace and may the injured recover as soon as possible – Amen!

Start counting the series and spats of bad news from my country and you won’t be able to reach a limit. Suicide bombings, super-floods, sectarian violence, corrupt politicians, goons in power, mass poverty, electricity crisis, gas shortage, inflation, banishment from the global community… You name it, we have it!

No wonder, we, the people of the Land of the Pure, are the bravest nation in the World!

No more can my heart feel,

as I bow down, before Him I kneel.

The gain of peace in my abode,

the pain of worry on life’s each node.

For it makes no sense of having to bear,

when you have all & everything to fear.

From death to fire; not that I desire,

after all, who likes to sink in such a mire.

My heart cries in silent despair,

for it has had more than its share.

Oh God, give us a sign of hope,

of love, of life and of a will to cope.

Help us raise our spirits again,

save us from insanity; let hope remain.

For it won’t be worth a cry,

if before death, a tear won’t dry…

Prayers,

Hasan Mubarak


Party with Squirrels

It’s easy to love a place where residents make efforts to feed the squirrels. In the Shalimar Garden, a few senior citizens party with the squirrels every morning.
When my friend Hussain Qazi who is naturalist and a photographer told me about people feeding birds and squirrels, I planned to skip my ‘ritual morning walks’ and decided to visit Shalimar Garden instead; hopping to find more about the party with the squirrels.
The care and feeding of squirrels in Shalimar Garden is a recent phenomenon. Long overshadowed by heritage talk (it is on UNESO’s world heritage list), Shalimar Garden is overcrowded during day. Whether or not Shalimar Garden ultimately can maintain its past glory – and with it, an influx of foreign and local tourists – it’s a surprisingly satisfying open space during early hour of the day.
Every morning, two charismatic old men, loaded with biscuits, rice and pluses came to the waiting population of birds and squirrels in the Shalimar Garden. They sit on the same benches and start throwing grins to the birds. When this is happening, one can see squirrels coming down from nearby trees for their breakfast and then those gentlemen dig deep down their satchels and take out biscuits and start feeding the squirrels. The tiny winy animals are so use to those caring hands that they jump to take the first bite.
One of the old men Fazal Karim – a retired primary teacher who lives in nearby Daroge Wala – explained me this phenomenon and said, “I am coming here for my morning walk every day for a long time now. I feed the bird population and squirrels and find them very friendly. I miss them and look forward to meeting them every day. I think they miss me too.” X-posted at Light Within

TEDxLahore – collective optimism, over and all!

31st of August, 2010 saw TEDxLahore return to the city with a whole new spirit. From the jam-packed Ali Auditorium to a comprehensive list of speakers, the experience was quite enriching and motivating for almost everyone who attended the talks. One can easily say that TEDxLahore’s second year with the theme of ‘Collective Genius’ was far bigger and better than the first one.

Some 380 people were handpicked from more than a thousand applicants and all of them showed up! There were students, educationists, trainers, professionals, bloggers; people belonging to a very diverse and interesting group of individuals. Although some of the enthusiastic crowd was present at the venue two hours in advance of the planned timing, the event kicked off a bit late due to bad weather. The stage design was sleek and impressive, hats off to the people behind it. Same was the case with audio system provided by Bose, which apart from slight glitches worked pretty fine.

Arif Hasan at TEDxLahore - Photo by TEDxLahore

Before the talks, a minute of silence was observed to honor the lives lost in devastating floods, Airblue plane crash as well as to the victims of terrorism. After that, Arif Hasan, a renowned architect, took to the stage and discussed socio-economic changes in urban planning after Partition. He was followed by the duo of Omar Sheikh and Jabran Rafique, both of whom are super-mappers and the guys behind Attabad Lake markings and mapping on Google Mapmaker.

The only short-film filmed at TEDxLahore was titled ‘Building Pakistan’ with a patriotic theme depicted in a very innovative way. You can watch the video here.

Some other notable talks featured:

Ajmal Kamal – who talked about his dream of seeing everything written in Urdu available to everyone through print and electronic media.

Dr. Tariq Rahman – shed some light on how code-switching (multilingual overlapping e.g. Urdish & Urdi) is not exactly a bad thing in literature or everyday conversations.

Saima Zaidi – provided a visual treat by presenting the rich visual culture of Pakistan. References included a poster for Jhuley Laal, product packaging for Rooh Afza, Tibet Talcum Powder and a Mughal miniature depicting the folk love story of Shirin Farhad. She concluded her presentation with a resolve that we are a diverse and inclusive society as evident in our visual culture.

Beena Raza came next with her introduction to Sangan Nagar Institute of Philosophy & Arts. Apart from very lengthy text on slides, it was interesting to hear about another effort to revive our culture.

The show-stopper in the first half, without a doubt, was Noor Zehra’s mesmerizing performance on Sagar Veena. She played the instrument with so much ease yet captivating the whole audience in its magic. For those who are not aware, Noor Zehra happens to be Ali Noor and Ali Hamza’s mother.

Almost all of these speakers kept the audience glued to their seats despite some of the participants occasionally snoozing off due to tiredness or inspirational overdose. Just before the second half started, refreshments were served which included samosas, rolls, ras malai and rabrri milk by Nirala. Participants also got some time to network, talk and discuss ideas with each other.

The first half of the event was interesting but more on the informational side. Real surprise was packed in the second half of the evening during which each speaker was generously applauded by the audience. And yes, there were at least two standing ovations for Dr. Zeeshan Usmani and Mudassir Zia who honestly deserved it.

Dr. Zeeshan Usmani is a full-bright scholar and an associate professor at GIK Institute who has developed a very comprehensive computer simulation model for tracking the effects of shock waves after suicide bombings. He currently has the largest database of suicide bombings in Pakistan, which has helped him develop an intelligent model very useful for pre-emptive measures, calculating human causalities and identifying the perpetrators. His genius and humor-filled presentation style won him accolade by everyone in the auditorium. If there was an award for man of the match, it would have easily been shared by Dr. Usmani and Mudassir Zia.

Mudassir Zia was the only speaker to conduct his talk in Urdu, our national language, and perhaps the highest on inspirational value as he discussed remarkable achievements of his group of friends. His ideal of ‘first do, dare and then dream’ is very relevant to the current reality of our society where everyone talks big but does nothing. Mudassir and his friends have started a charity school (Ghulam Muhammad Grammar School), arranged patriotic street art competitions and conducted blood donation drives all by themselves without any external help or funding. Every member of their team works in his respective profession and then dedicates personal time and resources to all these noble activities.

In addition to Dr. Usmani and Mudassir Zia, other speakers included:

Dr. Nadeem-ul-Haque – discussed the paradigm of donor projects and production. Being the head of the Planning Commission of Pakistan, he admitted that our development is devoid of creativity and innovation because we give little creative and intellectual space to our youth. He was true is saying that we focus only on hardware (development projects) and do very less about changing the software (mind-set and intellectual skills of the people).

Live on Skype from London, Majid Nawaz discussed the need to develop national consensus to identify our leaders, symbols, alliances and finally a progressive narrative. Relating to different ideologies, Majid mentioned how every idea needs these four elements in order to be effective and strong enough to unite any nation.

Zubair Bhatti – the ex-DCO of Jhang shared his initiative of pre-emptive feedback gathering from common citizens. The idea is being implemented successfully across various districts of the Punjab where senior government officials call individuals to ask if there was any corruption witnessed by them. An automated telephone feedback line is also being started for recording complaints in this regard.

Dr. Asher Hasan – the founder of Naya Jeevan presented his NGO’s work on provision of quality healthcare to the deserving most in our society.

Finally, Dr. Aamir Khan came up with his dream of quality healthcare for all Pakistanis. With an impressive profile of achievements and successes, Dr. Aamir Khan, as the head of IRD, has initiated the use of mobile phone technology for mapping, tracking and curing pneumonia, TB and STDs amongst citizens of major urban areas in Pakistan. He acknowledged the genius behind mobile phones which has helped his system of paperless medical reports and patient data collection in the least developed areas of Pakistan.

Rafay Alam, scheduled to speak about Critical Mass (a campaign to encourage cycling in cities), could not make it from Delhi due to a flight delay but was generously appreciated by everyone present in the audience for his initiative.

Once the talks finished, Asim Fayyaz, Curator TEDxLahore, presented his concluding remarks which thanking everyone including the sponsors. What came later was a total surprise live performance on drums and dhol by Saad Sarfraz Sheikh and his friends.

Adding on to the suggestions given by other fellow bloggers, I would also appreciate the effort put in by everyone from organizers to volunteers. Although, one can say that the talks did not exceed the TED caliber, still, they were pretty decent; some of them quite innovative and even inspiring around the idea of ‘Collective Genius’. Since, TEDx phenomenon has just started with at least three chapters in Lahore alone, one can easily hope that we will see a marked improvement in the quality and inspirational quotient of talks in successive future events.

Hats off and two thumbs up for the organizers, speakers and audience at TEDxLahore!

Favorite sayings from TEDxLahore 2010:

‘Chinese curse: May you get what you wish for!’ – Dr. Nadeem-ul-Haque
‘The only helping hand is at the end of your arm’ – Mudassir Zia
‘The problem with problems: solve one, get one free – so we need to keep working’ – Dr.Aamir Khan

Takeaway:

– Lots of positivity, optimism, patriotism and loads of ideas to bring a change for the better
– A goody-bag with TEDxLahore soundtrack, WWF Natura magazine, discount vouchers on books from ‘…the last word’ Qadaffi Stadium and a cute little plant gifted by the Horticulture Society.


Pakistan mourns the loss of 152 on Airblue flight ABQ-202

Pakistan will raise it’s flag to half mast on Thursday, July 29 as the whole nation mourns the loss of 152 passengers flying from Karachi to Islamabad on Airblue flight ABQ-202.

Inna lillahe wa inna illaihe rajioon!

Scene of the Airblue A321 crash site - Source: AFP via DAWN.com

At 9:40 AM Wednesday morning, the ten-year old Airbus A321 aircraft, flown by Airblue since 2006, plunged into the Margalla Hills about 8 KM from Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport after making an earlier unsuccessful attempt to land. The weather was torrential as it poured heavily enough to hamper rescue efforts and emergency relief operation. All 146 passengers and 6 crew were unfortunate to have boarded the flight as there were no survivors of what became the worst air disaster in Pakistan’s history. A list of everyone on board is available here.

May the souls of the deceased rest in peace and may God grant patience to their family and friends. Please pray and recite Dua-e-Maghfirat for everyone.


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