KLF’18, Opening Night

A cool gentle breeze moves in to the solemn 007 hall, abuzz with poetic nuances…

All but the voice of the poet, subtle buzzing hum of the speaker remain…

The air, though in a closed room, gives one a sense the sea is nearby…

Karachi is alive on this semi winter night, with literature aficionados en masse…

Close one’s eyes, ah ha! You’re transported to childhood’s loom…

A city of mixed yet sweet emotions, sweet nostalgic sounds amidst the cool sea air smells, inherent to Karachi for millennia…

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The term “Interior Sindh” a Misnomer – DAWN Letter from June 6, 2009

Dawn, June 26, 2009

Term ‘interior Sindh’ a misnomer

Friday, 26 Jun, 2009 | 02:55 AM PST

ON June 18 Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro commented on the unbridled usage of the terms ‘Interior Sindh’ and ‘Karachi and Sindh’ and gave his ruling in the Sindh Assembly session saying: “These terms are misleading and against the unity of Sindh. Hence these should not be used by any Member of the Sindh Assembly.”

Elaborating his remarks, he told the house: “A person in Lahore does not speak of ‘Interior Punjab’, or the people in Peshawar never say anything such as ‘interior Pakhtoonkhwa’ and the Quetta residents do not use the term ‘interior Balochistan’. So we, the Sindhis, should call areas by their names and not as ‘interior’ etc.”

Sindh was known by various names in the past. In the last 7,000 years poets, intellectuals, folk story tellers of united India use the term “ Hind and Sindfor Sindh and the rest of Indian subcontinent. The name Sindh comes from the Indo-Aryans. In Sanskrit it was called Sindhu, meaning the River Sindh and the people living on its banks.

The Assyrians (as early as the seventh century BC) knew the region as Sinda, the Persians as Hindush, the Greeks as Indos, the Romans as Sindus or Indus, the Chinese as Sintu, while the Arabs and English conquerers called it Sind. The government of Sindh added the letter ‘h’ to ‘Sind in 1995 aimed at correcting its spelling as per its pronounciation

In history, all conquerors and rulers always called the areas by their names. When they thought of moving to Nairoon Kot (Hyderabad), Chandka (Larkana and Kamber), Sewstaan (Sehwan), Khangarhh (Jacobabad), etc., they never used the phrase ‘interior Sindh’, nor did they isolate or separate Karachi and Sindh

I hope that from now on all people, including opinion-makers and lawmakers, would discourage using such terms as would distort history and people’s perception about Sindh.



source: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/letters-to-the-editor/term-interior-sindh-a-misnomer-669

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Getting Back to Basics – a call for practicality and pragmatism #AR4Pakl

بنیادی طور پر واپس

Getting Back to Basics

My campaign slogan for AR4Pakistan – a movement is a movement unlike any other to serve the people's most basic needs, no I don't promise Roti, Kapra, Makan nor do I promise Insaaf or anything specific.  My campaign, is a movement based on practicality and pragmatism.

As a nation, and as a people we have become convoluted, and have lost our sense of purpose -running from one sensation to the next without pausing to think. We need to reassess ourselves as a living breathing nation of 220 Million people. People who are flesh and blood, not some statistics on some NADRA computer database۔

My campaign is a campaign for re-aligning a new path for a lost nation. A nation whose foundation has been under continues attack from the getgo.

My campaign is about shifting our nations moral, ethical, emotional and human compass to one of realism. As a nation we need to drop all our ficades and preconceptions of who we think we are, and what we have to offer the world.

It's time to realign and rediscover ourselves. Who are we as a nation? What do we as a nation desire most?

I propose to rebuild our government based on the notion that the citizen comes first. We will work for the people not the people working for its government. My mission is the khush halli of every man, woman and child. I promise to establish a system that ensures no one goes to bed hungry each night, a systems that ensures no one has to ever again sleep on a bare, cold and filthy footpath but instead look forward to a warm and clean bed, with a solid roof and four walls surrounding him/her every night.

We will not tax anyone without due "practical" cause. Citizens will only pay for services they receive and nothing more. If they're unsatisfied they'll get a 100% refund of their tax money, no questions asked.

Your business is your own, your life is your own, no one or institution can and will be able to tell you how to run your business or lead your life. Other than instituting a few basic guidelines to ensure  fairness, equity, equality, within reasonable ethical and moral bounds, you are your own man.

The old days of holding the people hostage to unreasonable taxation and uniformity under the law are long gone.

On education I take Mr Muhammad Ali Jinnah's message to heart. For a strong and thriving nation one must focus on educating future generations through a system that delivers and ensures results. Now a days education is merely tick mark, a look good feature on your resume. I believe in delivering a wholesome education to young minds where by they can become active, creative and truly valuable members of society.

It is imperative that every man, woman and child has a sound technical and scientific educational base. For it is through the sciences that one developed a practical and pragmatic approach to life. The sciences, if taught correctly allow for greater out of the box thinking, allow for greater empathy and understanding of the world.

If you believe in Pakistan, if you believe we have lost our purpose then join me. Join me to re-envision a new Pakistan, a nation built to serve it's citizens with no strings attached.

Together let's get back to basics!

Post inspired from a Facebook Question asked by Shahjahan Chaudhary 

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The1st Pakistani Passenger Liners ‘Safina-e-Hujjaj’ former WWII Troop Carrier

Pakistani passenger ship “Safina-e-Hujjaj” (19,116 tons gross, built by Blohm & Voss, Hamburg), owned by Pan Islamic Steamship Co., anchored 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 Safina-e-Hujjaj was made by the visionary entrepreneurs and founders of The Pan Islamic Steamship Co, Mr A.K. Rafiq (my paternal grandfather) and Mr A.H. Ismail.

Upon purchase Hujaj was towed from the port of Liverpool (UK) to the port of Karachi’s newly constructed east dry dock.

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.H. Ismail (Managing Director & Founder), Mr A.K. Rafiq (Director & Founder), Mr Abdul Aziz Arab (Princple Investor).

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

PISC started operations with one ship, out of there Writers Chambers office on McLoed Road (I.I. chundrigar Rd) in Karachi. From 1 ship PISC very fast acquiring a fleet of 7, including constructing Pakistans first motorized ship named Safina-e-Arab.

At its pinnacle PISC had agents spanning the globe from New York and Boston to Karachi, Bombay, Chittagong, Yemen, East Africa, etc.

Source: pieced together from titbits shared by my father Mr Rashid Rafiq and grandmother Mrs A.K. Rafiq. More details will be posted in subsequent posts.

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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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بنیادی طور پر واپسُ – Getting Back to Basics #AR4Pak

I’m not going to share any long boring manifesto that nobody will read. We all know what’s wrong, politicians and the political pundits have and continue to discuss the wrongs to death, without ever showing real and sustained results that truly benefits the nation instead of a small group of self righteous assholes. 

My intention is to gather a group of like minded people and hit the ground running. We need to rebuild institutions and re-establish a sense of ownership and self satisfaction amongst citizens by addressing and acting upon the issues within the key areas,

  • Environment 
  • Education 
  • Employment and Entrepreneurship 
  • Education 
  • Economics

Also getting back basics means addessing our nations core competencies and redirecting resources to further strengthen them. For example in agriculture. An area where we have fallen behind much of the world, yet it’s a major component of our GDP۔ 

Through carfully identitifying the issues my intent is to put a fully-funded plan and a team in place to take action. 

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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


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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