Pakistani Passenger Ship ‘Safina-e-Hujjaj’ former WWII Troop Carrier owned by Pan Islamic Steamship Co.

Pakistani passenger ship “Safina-e-Hujjaj” (19,116 tons gross, built by Blohm & Voss, Hamburg), owned by Pan Islamic Steamship Co., Karachi, at anchor off Karachi in August 1967. She was completed in 1935 as the 17,528-ton transatlantic liner “Potsdam” for Norddeutscher Lloyd. At the end of World War II she was confiscated by the British Government who in 1946 renamed her first “Empire Jewel” & then “Empire Fowey”. She was re-engined & refitted as a troopship by Alexander Stephen & Sons, Glasgow, between 1947 & 1950 and then placed under the management of P&O S.N. Co. She was bought by Pan Islamic in 1960 & scrapped at Gadani Beach in 1976.

The purchase of Samina-e-Hujjaj was made by the visionary Entrepreneur and founders of The Pan Islamic Steamship Co, Mr A.K. Rafiq. 

PISC was Pakistan’s first shipping company established in April 1950, listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (former Karachi Stock Exchange) in October 1952, 3 years after independence by Mr A.K. Rafiq (Managing Director), Mr Abdul Aziz Arab (Princple Investor), Mr A.H. Ismail, and Mr A.D. Ahmed (Director representing the queen of Bhopals investment). 

The Pan Islamic Steamship Co was one of Pakistan’s pioneers, established a few years after  independence in a brand new country, on literary a shoe-string budget, with one ship. 

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Keep it Simple

Earlier today I was talking to friend who was describing the recent OPEN Forum 2017 conference in Silicon Valley and how inspiring it was to meet all the wonderful speakers – entrepreneurs and investors. 

After listening to her narrate her experiences and thoughts I asked so what was the one think that stood for you, her reply was 

I’d say the one thing that stood out for me was this speaker who said ‘keep it simple’. 

This applies to building a business to everything in life. Just keep it simple. 

– Sabrina A.

That statement hit home. As a business owner, and I’m deliberately not using the word entrepreneur here as that conjours up the whole notion of unicorns and grandeur, your  job is to stay focused on the bottom-line, keep your feet on the ground and do what is needed to get the job done and keep the lights on. 

That’s what is meant by keeping simple. 

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IT and the critical role it plays for your business

It is appalling how many businesses treat the Information Technology part of their business. More often than not,  despite IT playing a dominant role in the business the IT department is seen as a mere support service rather than as a core business function. 

The IT department is no more or no less important than your Accounting Department. In today’s day and age an organization needs IT to survive. Every department within the organization relies on the IT department.

Just because you’re business isn’t a a technology business it doesn’t mean IT is unimportant. 

By IT or Information Technology I’m referring to everything from the Hardware to Software that keeps your company’s websites, accounting software, inventory softwares, emails working.

Take the company website for example: Design and Development is only the first phase. There’s the ongoing upkeep and maintenance that includes periodic Software updates, ongoing virus and malware checks to protect the site from hacking and melicious attacks that could compromise your company brand, user interface updates to meet customer demand, and more over ensuring customers get the most current content that keeps them coming back for more.

The website is the gateway to your company that customers see. It’s as important as keeping the company’s physical entrance orderly and presentable.  The company website is like a living breathing organism that needs constant nurturing. 

Don’t cut corners, allocate a portion of your budget to IT. 

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No Taxation without Representation – Witholding Tax

13% SST or Service Sales Tax and 10% WHT or witholding Tax need to be renamed to 13% Provincial Service Tax and 10% Federal Service Tax in Pakistan. 

According to the tax lawyers I’ve dealt with the past many years WHT is essentially a service / sales tax that you can forget about ever getting back. 

On that note the whole notion of SST and WHT is quite ridiculous. Businesses nationwide struggle to keep up with what and how much they need to charge, more often than not many customer account departments get it wrong. When they should deduct 10% they’re deducting 12%, when they should deduct 8% WHT they’re deducting 10% or 15% WHT. 

Worst is and most unfair is when you pay someone with a CASH cheque, they in turn go and cash it from your bank and you get charged 0.3% WHT (for filers) or 0.6% (non filers). 

We might as well shift to an all cash only accounting system where you accept cash only payments from customers and pay all your vendors, employees, etc in cash; until we get get fair and just tax rates, and “true representation” that serve the country.

It’s not the private citizen and business owners responsibility to pay for the mistakes and corruption of the government. We should not have to pay for IMF and World Bank loans government’s took out in our name, only to pay themselves.

The government is there to serve the citizen and businesses, instead it feels like citizens and businesses are serving the government with their hard earned earnings. It’s time to stand up and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

originally written as a Facebook post


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Platformization of the Web – Yahoo, Google, Facebook…

Recalling back in 2006 the talk around Silicon Valley was about the web as a platform connecting platforms, and how it would ultimately shape the web. In fact I helped organize a panel along those lines as part of OPEN Silicon Valley quarterly event series titled ‘Platformization of the web: Yahoo, Google, Facebook’. Dave McClure then at Google was one of the panelists. It was a novel concept then, we were still thinking of the web as a sort of information repository – social aspect was very new to the vast majority of users and the only social platform we had then were Yahoogroups, a mere glorification of the legacy listservs, and blogspot a sort of social platform for the more literary/intellectual geeks.
Fast forward to today Yahoo is out of the picture, Google continues to try it’s hand at capitalizing on social but thus far has failed miserably, though it now seems to be showing a glimmer of hope with it’s Hangout application. Thus leaving Facebook as the sole social network that’s, borrowing a line from Cisco ” ‘changed’ the way we Work, Live, and Play”!

However even Facebook has hit a snag in taking things like photo sharing, instant text messaging to a level where users get a seamless product that’s as easy as counting 1-2-3 to use. So two years back you got Facebooks out of the ordinary billion dollar acquisition of Instagram, and now Facebook’s multi billion dollar acquisition of Whatsapp.

What’s next? Has Facebook become the default social platform for the world wide web leaving search and discovery to Google, as Facebook sucks at that. In fact we also have Twitter which is showing some promise in becoming the social library for content working in tandem with Google and Facebook.

(Originally posted as a Facebook post)

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Echoes from the Past

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The new juxtaposed upon the old. From Victorian era buildings to contemprory present day glass towers. London is a town where tradition and modernity are intricately married in a harmonious symphony. Amidst the hustle and bustle of day-to-day city life you hear the gentle music of the past echoing in the backdrop.

Watching people walking in and out of London Victoria Station one can’t help think of the generations that have passed through this iconic landmark. From the likes of Gandhi, Jinnah, Nehru to my very own maternal grandfather, Hassanally A Rahman spent many years in this city.

London is one of the most well planned global cities. One of handful of cities that has been built around a sense of community. From the stellar public transport system to parks and street corners. This city encourages greater random human contact. That’s the mark of a civilized city.

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A Toast To The Honey Bees!

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The entrepreneurs long full of wonder walk! © Copyright Abdulrahman Rafiq 2011 at The White House

An entrepreneur is someone who continuously feels being out of his element; doubting and second guessing oneself comes with the terrain. It’s  a known yet well kept secret of entrepreneurs. 

Mainstream pop culture that seek out the best and brightest, capitalizing on the very notion that an entrepreneur is a “know it all” maven are  doing a great disservice to aspiring entrepreneurs by not conveying the whole picture. 

The truth, though on the face things may appear discouraging, on the contrary it’s an impetus to dig deeper – encouraging the bold to take the plunge and explore.
Entrepreneurs are like artists and writers,  asking the tough questions others wouldn’t dare ask, yet unlike the artists and writers they self impose the burden of finding, or rather defining the answers to those tough questions. Thus they are always in a constant state of exploration.

Those questions that many a time go against conventional beliefs,  the questions that ordinary men would shun away out of fear of becoming a social and professional outcast or out of fear of loosing. Those questions that have driven men insane for millenia. Yet they continue to pursue until their last breath.

The hard truth of going down that path is that it’s a lonely one, where a select few have the wherewithal to go down. There is no guarantee of success.  In fact there is no way an entrepreneur can guarantee with absolute certainty that there’s a pot of gold lying at the end of the long dark tunnel.

You are driven by your own convictions, driven by a force within that says you must venture down a path no matter what the outcome.

Yeah you can try and quantify the risks, construct elaborate financial models to appease yourself and society, i.e your supporters and bank rollers.  But let’s face it, all that amounts to a load of BS.

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© Copyright Abdulrahman Rafiq 2013 London Underground

Let’s stop kidding ourselves. If you have a burning desire to try and solve one of the puzzles of the universe, impact society in unimaginable ways then for crying out loud go and just do it. Turn your idea into something tangible by taking a chance, plung into the deep end.

Your idea is only as good as your conviction to see it to fruition. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to come along. Just do it and build your idea into a tangible business. If you happen to fail, big deal move on to the next idea.

There is no such thing as failure, no effort goes in vein, as the journey of an entrepreneur is a journey of a lifelong student – continuously striving and pivoting an idea – tailoring it to suite mass demand.

Fuck what the Wallstreet “analyst” have to say. As their analysis are based on convention of thinking inside the box. That is a box that at some point in time was created by someone like you who thought outside a box of conventional wisdom.

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A Silver Lined Death Sentence, Dressed In Blue!

Getting laid of from my very first job and the company I joined straight out of college was probably the best thing that could have happened to me.

In one stroke my employer, Cisco Systems pulled the rug from under myself and thousands of others. A shock it was, as who could have imagined this. Especially it happening to you.

You may have played all the right cards available to corporate professionals. Yet at the end of the day usefulness of employees is not based on their individual contribution alone.

As an employee in a corporation you get paid for being in the office day-in and day-out, as long as you deliver upon your specific role, everyone is happy, and you continue to get paid, with the occasional bonus slapped on.

It is a great and cushy life, you feel on top of the world, secure in your life. Never really expecting your life line to the company could ever be axed by the very same company you’ve diligently slaved for day-in and day-out.

That was me until the morning of Thursday, July 16 2009. Upon walking in to my cubicle, as I took my seat in front of my 17 inch LCD monitor, I clicked open Outlook to find two emails from both my managers marked urgent with the subject line “Please contact me at your earliest convenience”.

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On Outsourcing & Democrats Misplaced Criticism

Although I support the Democrat platform and have campaigned for President Obama, I do not agree with the Democrats attack and misplaced criticism towards outsourcing, as explicitly depicted in attack advertisements against Mitt Romney. It is not as evil as the Obama Campaign is making it out to appear. Outsourcing within moderation is a valuable tool for any small business owner or entrepreneur.

There is nothing wrong in outsourcing menial work abroad, it actually helps Americas small business sector in becoming more productive, competitive and profitable. In turn enabling them to create more high paying jobs in the United States.

Small businesses are the backbone to the American economy. Democrats and the Obama Administration claim to support small businesses yet to date have acted as advocates for big business and Cooperate America. Not to mention the Obama Administrations poster Jobs zhar who heads up General Electric (GE) has used outsourcing to GEs advantage. More on GE and outsourcing jobs.

Indeed, it is true the Obama Administration has given tax cuts to small business and have encouraged their growth, however the support has been minuscule and to some degree short lived.

Case-in-Point: take the recent import tariffs imposed on Chinese Solar Panels. The move is counter productive and only helps the big Solar panel manufacturers and not the large number of the America Solar Installers, most of whom are small business struggling to keep afloat in these recessionary times. There competitiveness depend on low cost Solar Modules from China, however with the newly instated import tariffs many Solar business may end up shuttering down. More on impact of US Import Tariffs on Solar here.

Democrats need to realize without the ability to outsource Americas small business sector is doomed to failure. The America that was built by small business entrepreneurs will not survive if restrictions on outsourcing are imposed. Business, small or big demands space in a borderless world to operate.

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Homeless in Siliconattle

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A homeless guy availing of free WiFi for his laptop while standing next to his bike laden with personal effects, outside the closed Starbucks on University Avenue in Palo Alto on 4th of July 2012

 

 

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