Archive for February, 2008

Startup Insiders #6 – February 24

si-logo-small.jpgThe announcement below is taken straight from Green & White and Jehan Ara‘s blogs:

Startup Insiders is coming to Lahore again on the 24th of February. This time the event is supported by LUMS and will be held at the LUMS Campus itself.

An incredible panel is aggregating together again, and this time fans of Jawwad wont be disappointed:

* Faisal Qureshi, CEO, Kolachi Advanced Technolgies
* Zia Imran, CEO, VahZay Pvt Limited
* Jawwad Farid, CEO, Alchemy Technologies
* Salim Ghauri, President & CEO, Netsol Technologies
* Osama Hashmi, CEO, CDF Software
* Jehan Ara, President, P@SHA
* Fahd Bangash, CEO, Amaana
* Zafar Khan, CEO, Sofizar
* Dr. Umar Saif, Founder, Bumpin.com, chOpaal and Associate Professor, LUMS

The theme for this session is:

Who is my customer? How do I find him or her? How and what do I sell?

The session details are:

Date: February 24, 2008
Time: 3pm to 6pm
Venue: Lahore University of Management Sciences,
Room A11 & A10, Ground Floor, Main Academic Block

As always, this is open for all aspiring or seasoned entrepreneurs. For more details and guidelines, visit Green & White, In the Line of Wire and Desi Back to Desh.

A note to organizers and attendees: As much as I would love to attend these sessions, I have unavoidable reasons that make it impossible for me to be there – my only beef with the last SI session in Lahore are all those pictures-less post-event posts! I hope we’ll get to see tons of pictures this time around! :)

YouTube blocked!

While trying to access a YouTube link to video proof of electoral rigging in Karachi as suggested by Bilal Rashid, I was disappointed to find it altogether dead.

Other fellow bloggers also fear an unfortunate block on YouTube across the Pakistani web-world blamed on a series of varied factors; posting of blasphemous videos; Aitezaz Ahsan’s GEO interview; or Karachi poll rigging videos.

Where are we headed now??

Election results confused the West – Why?

Well well, a high-margin defeat for MMA and its ‘first degree lota’ mullahs might have come as a relief to the West which had concerns about the so called ‘islamists’ taking control over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in addition to the apprehensions about law-and-order situation in north-western Pakistan. However, this happiness was at least equally if not overwhelmingly marred by President Musharraf’s defeat in elections who by all standards was being considered an ‘indispensable ally’ in the war on terror.

In a very comprehensive analysis of President Bush’s Pakistan policy in the current scenario, n+1 magazine opines:

Yet as the situation in Pakistan makes clear, our born-again realism hasn’t produced much change on the ground. Our backing of “friendly” authoritarian regimes has remained consistent and generous throughout, governed by the misapplication of rationalist models and fueled by antiquated cold-war assumptions.

Which has brought none but little progress in security, ideological wins and has totally failed in generating people’s support in the much trumpted ‘global war on terror’.

Conflict of interest, that of the Americans and the Pakistanis in this case is explained by Nicholas Schmidle who gives an interesting insight of a foreigner on the electoral process and its results in a recent post on Slate. He writes:

Heading into Monday’s parliamentary elections, Pakistan desperately needed good news. Bombs, protests, and President Pervez Musharraf’s authoritarian impulses have made almost daily headlines and created the impression of a country spiraling toward chaos. Last year, Islamic militants detonated, on average, one suicide bomb per week in Pakistan, including the attack that killed more than 140 people at Benazir Bhutto’s homecoming in October and the one that assassinated her in December. As the pro-Taliban insurgency gathered strength this winter, a bloody Election Day seemed inevitable. But Monday’s poll results, while consistent with Pakistan’s recent history in their pure unpredictability, finally gave people a taste of good news. Besides being largely free of violence (two dozen died in isolated skirmishes, but suicide bombers stayed away), voters rejected the two players in Pakistani politics that scare–and confuse–Americans most: Musharraf and the Islamists.

This confusion was reflected in President Bush’s speech on the matter in which he congratulated the newly elected parties and expressed his hope that ‘the new fellows are friends of the US’ in a tone that sounded more like a threat if they are not.

It again brings to focus the point whether our new government acts on a democratic agenda of policies, be it against the western interests but in favor of Pakistan’s own security and national reconciliation, or it bows out to continue being an agent in safeguarding other nations’ national security interests while undermining its own stability and integrity of the Pakistani people.

Special credits to iblees and n plus one magazine.

I salute them

Though the turnout remained lower this time but the people of Pakistan played their part towards a democratic Pakistan. The main reason of low turn out in NA-127 was the murder of 4 people including the PP-154 candidate Asif Ashraf.

Even thoughl, we are all grateful to those who came to polling stations and casted their votes; and we must salute the old people, like in the pictures below who are dependent on others, who came to cast their votes and played an active role in deciding the future of Pakistan.
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are they accountable?

As all of us know that according to the rules and regulations of Election Commission of Pakistan, no official/governmental resources could be used for any sort of election campaign to support any of the MNAs or MPAs candidate. Also, a punishment of disqualification was announced for any of the government employees found involved in any sort of political supportive activity for any of the candidates nominated for the elections 2008.

The picture below shows the activities being done in the government office of the Union Council (UC) 133, Town Ship, Lahore. The office remained open on February 18, the day of elections, in spite of the fact that it was a government holiday.
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A right snatched away

President Musharraf fulfilled his promise by conducting free and fair elections in a relatively peaceful environment.
First time in Pakistan’s history a democratically elected government finished its constitutionally required time of 5 years. First time in Pakistan’s history people were allowed to exercise their ‘righ’t to choose their government without the interruption of the military.

But unfortunately even rights are not safe from attacks as a large number of women in Peshawar were barred from voting at polling stations by the electoral candidates of the provincial constituencies of PF-6, PF-7 and PF-8. A female presiding officer at the Khazana Bala polling station showed reporters an agreement written in Urdu that said, “We, the candidates for PF-8, announce a ban on women’s participation in the February 18 balloting, given that women had been barred from voting in the previous elections as well.” Similarly, panchayats (local village councils) in Mianwali and Sargodha also banned women from voting.

Apart from that, Abdul Sattar Edhi, a social worker, upon reaching the Kharadar polling station in Karachi, came to know that he could not vote because his name was not registered. Shocked and disappointed he said, “I am a true Pakistani, but cannot exercise my right of voting.”

Similarly, deposed chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary and former superior judges Shakirullah Jan and Sardar Raza Khan, who are strictly under-house detention since November 3, weren’t allowed to cast their votes for the general elections aswell.

So what is a right? How do you define it?

PML (N) to clean sweep in Lahore

Many had doubts on the fairness of these elections after several acts of the previous government referred to pre-poll rigging, but majority of them have blatantly been proven wrong.

Former ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Q) is loosing grip even on its strongholds of power as Pakistan Muslim League (N) and the late Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) continue their sweep drive in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh respectively.

nawazpmlposter1.JPGnawazpmlposter2.JPG

Early results and speculations are literally pointing towards a total victory for PML(N) in Lahore, both on National and Provincial Assemby seats.

More astonishing has been the defeat of stars of PML(Q) in their own home constituencies. PML(Q) Chairman, Ch. Shujaat Hussain lost in his native Gujrat while Rao Sikander Iqbal (former Defence Minister), Khurshid Mahmood Qasoori (former Foreign Minister), Sheikh Rashid Ahmed (former Information and later Railways Minister) and Farooq Leghari (former President of Pakistan and a prominent Q-league leader) all fell victim to the shattering voter power of the PML(N) and PPPP in their respective home towns of Okara, Kasur, Rawalpindi and Dera Ghazi Khan. On the other hand, former Chief Minister of Punjab and the key PML(Q) nominee for Prime Ministership, Ch. Pervaiz Ilahi was successful in winning both National and Provincial Assembly seats for himself.

Looking at the present state of PML(Q)‘s falling frontiers, we can surely understand all was not lie in the government’s claims of holding free and fair elections; another omen for strongly needed change and progress of democracy in Pakistan.

Lahore’s Seats of Power

Being the second largest city in Pakistan and capital of the most populous Punjab province, Lahore is an important power feeder into the Federal Parliament.

According to Election Commission of Pakistan’s base of 1998 population census, Lahore district had a population of 6,318,745 for which the city has 13 seats in the National Assembly (12.70% of the total) and 25 power slots in the Provincial Assembly of Punjab (25.49%). Lahore’s share of the National Assembly seats is second only to Karachi City that has a total of 20 MNA slots (19.75%).

NALahore.JPG

National Assembly Contituencies (2002 Delimitation)
Lahore District

NA – 118 — LAHORE – I
NA – 119 — LAHORE – II
NA – 120 — LAHORE – III
NA – 121 — LAHORE – IV
NA – 122 — LAHORE – V
NA – 123 — LAHORE – VI
NA – 124 — LAHORE – VII
NA – 125 — LAHORE – VIII
NA – 126 — LAHORE – IX
NA – 127 — LAHORE – X
NA – 128 — LAHORE – XI
NA – 129 — LAHORE – XII
NA – 130 — LAHORE – XIII

PPLahore.JPG

Provincial Assembly Constituencies (2002 Delimitation)
Lahore District

PP – 137 — LAHORE – I
PP – 138 — LAHORE – II
PP – 139 — LAHORE – III
PP – 140 — LAHORE – IV
PP – 140 — LAHORE – V
…….
…….
…….
PP – 161 — LAHORE – XXV

Polls concluded peacefully

Voting concluded all around the country at 5:00 pm this evening with generally peaceful holding of elections everywhere. There were some ugly incidents causing at least 6 deaths in the Punjab province while a provincial assembly candidate was ambushed in Lahore yesterday.

Otherwise, the relative calmness comes as a relief to speculations of terrorism, riots or disturbance usually expected in such security scenario.

Lahore’s candidates are holding their breath waiting for the counting to end and then celebrate or lament their respective success or failure.

Meanwhile, media is declaring a poor 30% turnout rate for the 2008 Elections while there have not been any confirmed reports of rigging in Lahore polling stations. Several foreign observers including US Senetor John Kerry are reported to have monitored and visited points of polls in Lahore.

Let’s all hope everyone is able to keep calm and maintain the law and order situation after the results are declared.

Subtle Activism

I have always considered ‘activists’ to be cool people. People who have found a drive, a purpose, a channel for their energies, thoughts and actions. I not only sometimes think they are cool, I also think they are lucky, having found a cause to struggle and fight for. Nothing gives peace and tranquility more than a well-directed, well-oriented life/lifestyle.

Probably one of the main reasons I am biased toward activists is that I am not one. So the curiosity gets the better of me, I guess. And when today, after eventually casting my vote for NA-125 (Lhr Cantt), I walked out of the polling station, I had that eerie feeling that, ‘yes, I have played my part.’ I call that eerie because I never thought I would bother that much, come election day, but there I was, walking out of the polling station with a smile on my face and a blue mark on my thumb.

And while driving back with my Mother, who was adamant to cast her vote, I realized that voting is really a subtle form of activism and that by casting my vote I have retained my right to bitch about the corrupt people running (read ruining) an A-OK system. The same system that helps put food on my table, albeit it costs more than it used to; the same system that got my through school, college and a university, although I feel I didn’t learn much; the same system that help me run my business(es), although expanding without kickbacks always presents a hurdle.

I truly believe that the ‘system’ (a.k.a. constitution, society, culture etc) is not that bad at all. I also truly believe that although the system inherently provides for checks-and-balances, it is the people at the helm of affairs that end up twisting and manipulating it for their own – and strictly their own – benefit.

The problem lies with us; you, me and them. I can be honest and that is pretty much about it. You and them have to do that yourself.

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