Shakir Lakhani

Shakir Lakhani

Engineer, former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College, industrialist, associated with petroleum/chemical industries for many years. Loves writing, and (in the opinion of most of those who know him), mentally unbalanced. He tweets @shakirlakhani (twitter.com/shakirlakhani)

Instead of chanting the devaluation mantra, exporters should reduce their costs

Last month, the rupee plunged to its lowest in nine years. A banker friend called me and said, “If you have dollars, don’t sell them, if you don’t have dollars, buy them. The market is plunging and by the evening you will need Rs120 to buy a dollar.” This was very alarming since I am in the import business and would have to sustain big losses if the free fall continued. In the evening, the price of eggs had shot up by Rs10 to the dozen. Why? In response, the shopkeeper said, “Don’t you know? The dollar has gone up sharply.” Pressed further, he said, “I buy ...

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#GoneNawazGone: Today could be the darkest day in Pakistan’s judicial history or the day a new Pakistan was born

The nail-biting suspense leading up to the verdict is now over. The unthinkable has finally happened. Nawaz Sharif, who managed to win three elections and serve as Pakistan’s prime minister, has been disqualified and faces political extinction. This is the mother of all Supreme Court (SC) verdicts and whether it will change the country’s fate for better or worse will be decided in the next few days. It could be the darkest day in Pakistan’s judicial history or it may be remembered as the day a new Pakistan was born, depending on whether or not the SC disqualifies others who are equally corrupt (which includes ...

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Why NAB should be disbanded and replaced by an anti-corruption bench of the SC

There is much talk of disqualifying the Panama accused to prevent them from running for public office again. Disqualification alone will be against the principles of natural justice. Simply disqualifying the accused will send the wrong message to other corrupt politicians who have enriched themselves over the past few years. The court (in addition to sentencing the accused as per law), should also seize all their properties and assets, freeze their bank accounts, confiscate their vehicles and put their names on the Exit Control List (ECL). And it should not simply end with the conviction and disqualification of those who are on trial today. There are ...

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Quaid’s mausoleum may soon be replaced by high-rises, and we’re not doing anything about it

I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the present Sindh government, like its predecessors, is also selling whatever open land is left in Karachi to interested developers. I’m referring to the most recent scandal, the selling of 30 acres of land meant for the Horticultural Society to the builders’ mafia at a price which is about 1% of its actual value. I wonder if they have ever thought of the fact that one day, all the open spaces in Karachi will be gobbled up and replaced with shopping malls and commercial plazas, and they will have nothing left to sell. So if a man is struck on the head ...

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“Corruption is our right”: Have you not looted Sindh enough already, PPP?

Ask any schoolboy in Pakistan which political party is the most corrupt and he will reply at once, “Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).” Even before a Swiss court convicted the former president and his wife Benazir Bhutto of money laundering, the leaders of this party have been known to be highly corrupt. It was not for nothing that former President Asif Ali Zardari was known as Mr 10%. So it was highly ironical to see PPP stalwarts such as Aitzaz Ahsan in Parliament demanding accountability of Nawaz Sharif. Either he forgot the rampant corruption in his own party or deliberately chose to ignore it. Mr Ahsan, how can we ever forget ...

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96 children from three fathers because birth control is a “heinous sin” – do you understand what’s happening, Pakistan?

When I read about Gulzar Khan, Mastan Khan Wazir and Jan Mohammed, the three Pakistanis that fathered 96 children, I was reminded of a man in our neighbourhood who had 17 children (from one wife) in the 1960s. Most men in those days had six children, though one sometimes did come across couples with 10 or 11. In fact, I know a few even today who have nine or 10 offspring. Now these are not average illiterate Pakistanis. Some of them are engineers and doctors; one is a chartered accountant, while the rest are executives in banks and offices. If you ask them why ...

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Dear Murad Ali Shah, do you even know what Sindh’s tax collectors are upto?

Dear Murad Ali Shah, It is well known that if you want to get anything done in your province, you have to pay the right people. In most cases, the right people are the ‘baboos’ as they are the ones who can skilfully insert whatever you want in any document knowing that the person who approves it will do so without reading it. Sometimes, if a baboo is not paid anything or not paid what he wants, he can do the opposite; he can get a tax imposed or increased on a particular commodity or service. This is what seems to have happened in the recently announced Sindh budget. ...

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If you want to survive in Pakistan, don’t stop at the red light!

A few years back, I stopped at a red light and my car was hit in the rear by a taxi driver. A crowd soon gathered and a traffic policeman came over and blamed me for the accident. “You’re not supposed to stop at traffic signals, even if the light is red,” he said. “You should slow down, look left and right and go across without getting hit, or hitting another car.” “But what about the traffic rules?” I protested. He laughed contemptuously. “Rules are made to be broken. If everyone followed the rules, the country would collapse.” By this time, the crowd was baying for ...

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Brace your wallets, Ramazan is coming

I first heard the story many years ago, and every year I hear it at least once.  Most Pakistanis are probably familiar with it, but it bears repeating, for those who’ve never heard it. It goes like this: In the early years of Islam, a preacher from a town sent his assistant to tell the people of a distant village in the mountains about Ramazan. He told them how they would have to get up before daybreak, eat food and drink water, then go without water and food until sunset, beginning with the appearance of the new moon and ending with the appearance of the ...

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Why honest policemen can’t survive under the existing Sindh set-up

The following is an old joke about the police in Karachi. The police chiefs of London, Tokyo and Karachi were discussing how they tackle crime in their cities. The London police chief said, “When a robbery occurs in my city, we solve the crime within 24 hours.” The Tokyo police chief said, “We catch the thieves within 12 hours.” The Karachi police chief responded with, “We cannot arrest anyone, as it’s our policemen who commit most of the crimes in Karachi.” In 1984, I visited a police station in Karachi to see someone who had been arrested. As we were talking, the phone rang and the SHO picked ...

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