Stories published in December, 2010

Can you imagine a world without Wikipedia?

“Wikipedia only works in practice. In theory, it’s a total disaster.” Wikipedia, supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, has accumulated over 17 million articles in 262 languages as well as inspired copycats in Google and Facebook (see Google Knol and Facebook Community Pages). It still, however,  does not have money to keep the site running – nor does it want to charge money or display ads on its websites. If you’ve been to the Wikipedia website lately, you might have seen a banner at the top of the page that says “Please read: A personal appeal from Wikimedia Executive Director Sue ...

Read Full Post

Listen to the customer!

Gone are the days when you needed to lodge a complaint about a problem in your telephone connection or electricity metre and nobody was available to even listen to your voice. Now, the scene has changed. Companies have started to focus more on customer service due to increasing competition in the marketplace. Many companies that didn’t even know about customer services now have state of the art call centers and customer touch points. Here they are not only listening to customer complaints but also resolving these on an immediate basis. However, there is still a place where customers are complaining ...

Read Full Post

Swati, Kazmi sacked: Three cheers for PM Gilani

For the first time in my life, I am actually applauding the Prime Minister for finally doing his job, the job being in this case, taking executive decisions and putting his house in order. For once, the PM said something and then actually followed up on that immediately. Now I am hoping and wishing that happens every time he says something, but I guess that’s just asking a bit too much – but this is a great start. To understand the significance of today, we need to understand its background. So as most of you are aware of the ...

Read Full Post

Salmaan Taseer: The case of the missing governor

Sound the alarms! Inform the Army! The governor is missing…again! Armed with his designer sunglasses and iPad, Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer managed to slip from under the provincial government’s radar for the second time in a row. Television channels ran tickers on the governor’s absence today, while the governor tweeted that he hadn’t gone anywhere (not to mention taking out the time to slam the Punjab government and a certain media group for the hype around his alleged ‘exit’). Known for his outrageous comments and responses to political opponents, Mr Taseer never fails to surprise us. From defending minorities in Pakistan ...

Read Full Post

Isn’t it obvious why we don’t need Amir and Asif?

Who needs Mohammad Asif or Mohammad Amir?  What have these two bowlers accomplished, anyway? I’m sure there are many cricketers who have taken 50 odd wickets in 14 test matches at the age of 18 like Amir, although I am unable to name even one right now. Didn’t we manage to win two ODIs without them, even though we lost the series to South Africa? We managed to keep South Africa in check during the Test series without these players, not letting them win a single test match, never mind that our bowling attack could just bowl them out once. ...

Read Full Post

Moving to Pakistan: My rational fears

As newspapers report more blasts every day, and as one of those blasts killed a would-be colleague, I have to admit it, I’m scared of moving to Pakistan. And I’m defenseless. I don’t speak Urdu or Punjabi or Pashtu or any language except English and a poor smattering of Spanish. I’m American, and I look American. I’m female and tiny. My only defenses are my wits, and as my last post proved, those are sometimes off-mark. My friends and especially my family implore me—why are you going? I often wonder if I should have been an artist rather than a journalist. ...

Read Full Post

Nawaz and Zardari: Smiling through gritted teeth

The stage is set for two of the most important leaders of the country to meet again. A banquet is to be held with the Chinese prime minister in attendance, and Nawaz Sharif and President Zardari will once again take part in the fakest-smile-in-the-world competition. Since it is not a formal meeting, we will probably be spared the usual rhetoric that is issued in a joint statement. But the leaders are meeting beneath the dark cloud of the impending RGST and so TV channels and talk show hosts will analyse and over analyse their body language and gestures. The only tangible ...

Read Full Post

Minorities in Pakistan: Living a marginalised reality

I’ve found the reaction to Pakistan’s current blasphemy laws surprising. Not because I think the whole Aasia Bibi (and more recently Naushad Valiyani) issue has been blown out of proportion but because of how long it has taken Pakistan to acknowledge the malicious nature of the blasphemy laws. I feel that our nation’s reaction is luke warm – one that has flourished just so most of us can sleep at night feeling good about ourselves as genuine ‘online philanthropists’. These blasphemy laws have existed in Pakistan as long as I can remember. They are a product of what General Ziaul Haq and ...

Read Full Post

Partying in Jeddah: The elite immunity syndrome

A recent US consulate cable released by WikiLeaks describes a Halloween party at an elite residence in Jeddah; the funds of a prince, alcohol, ‘working women’ and a scene resembling ‘ a nightclub anywhere outside the Kingdom’ was highlighted. The news caused a burst of outrage. I came across more than one online forum where comments ranged from: ‘I wonder what kind of Islam Pakistan has imported from Saudi Arabia’ to ‘If anyone still blindly have faith in these low lives gutter mentality people’. It disturbs me that there is such outrage over a nation that is run by a monarchy-the very concept of ...

Read Full Post

I heart Karachi until foreign university folk arrive

When I’m feeling bored, I put on my ‘I heart Khi’ tee-shirt with the little red heart against a black background. You can see the signs spray painted all over the city from Zamzama to Sharae Faisal. (The logo was the brainchild of the late artist Asim Butt). Whenever I put the tee-shirt on, I always feel slightly smug with the thought that I’m part of an 18-million people strong city. Thank you Pakistan Studies Geography. Last week though, that air of superiority came crashing down around my ears and in disgust I threw that tee-shirt into the back of ...

Read Full Post