Stories about service

Instead of trying to earn cheap gains, Careem should focus on what powered their core business – safety

There is no place in the world where women can feel as safe or have the same privileges as men. But it is especially hard in Pakistan where discrimination is an endemic, thanks to the entitled mind-set of the typical Pakistani male. Abuse ranges from violence to sexual harassment, or worse, and no classes, locations or environments are completely safe from this. Some time ago, after someone close to me faced repeated harassment at the workplace through texts and emails, which included hundreds of threats of sexual violence, I was inspired to write an article investigating how deep the problem is in Pakistani work culture. The results were shocking. You’d ...

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An Indian in Pakistan

A simple white shalwar kameez, a pair of traditional Peshawari shoes and a black jacket. The packed hall of about 900 people exploded into thunderous cheers and a standing ovation. Young boys and girls jumped up with excitement, thumped their tables and filled the air with whistles. The welcome befitted a rock star. The man in white moved to the stage and commenced speaking. He spoke clearly, simply and in elegant Urdu; every member of the audience could understand him. His thoughts were crystal clear; he stood for a multi- cultural and secular framework, believed in a corruption free society, ...

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4 reasons Islamabad does not need the metro bus service

The PML-N government recently launched the metro bus service in Islamabad amidst much pomp with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurating the project himself. The project will connect Islamabad and Rawalpindi by widening the existing roads to accommodate a separate lane for the metro bus to run on without any traffic interrupting it.  However, the bus service has not been met kindly by the residents of Islamabad for a host of reasons, the most prominent among them being the fact that it violates the master plan of Islamabad and will cause destruction to the trees the city is known for. I think Islamabad doesn’t need the metro ...

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Pink buses, pinkie rickshaws and extra-virgin airlines to the rescue!

So, we now have a women-only bus service. That makes sense. Given the piddling issues of mass unemployment, insecurity, a weak economy and the energy crisis, one can understand the government’s obsession with its favourite pastime – separation of the sexes. I can even imagine the conversation that must have transpired. Imagine this – a huge room dripping with opulence and accompanied with the usual smell of flop sweat that hangs in bureaucratic offices. Seated around the teak wood table are leading strategists, clad in crisp white shalwar kameez and shining pates. On the throne-like chair sits the head honcho, marked by the starchiest ...

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Metro bus service in Rawalpindi and Islamabad: A blessing or a curse?

The Punjab cabinet approved the extension of the metro bus service to the twin cities of Rawalpindi-Islamabad in its recent meeting. When the PML-N won the elections back in May 2013, I had hoped that this was one election promise that they wouldn’t fulfil since the intended goal can be achieved via several alternative solutions. However, I guess since they couldn’t deliver on their electoral promise of ending power outages in six months, he has decided to give the twin cities a metro bus service. Politics aside, it makes little sense to have a mega project like the metro bus in Rawalpindi-Islamabad. According to ...

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Building ‘Traffic Pakistan’ and the problem with start-ups

Around three years ago M. Ali, a close friend of mine, built a very neat road traffic reporting system. This was a low tech version (dealing with real time traffic and incident reporting) over text messages and tweets. This was before we knew that something like Waze (later developed via Google) existed. Since Pakistan was gradually becoming a country with a majority of its population having access to cell phones and the internet, this idea made sense. Being pragmatists, we decided to name the scheme ‘Traffic Pakistan’. The idea was quite simple. Pakistani roads are horrible and often get congested. ...

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Volunteering in Pakistan: A forgotten dream

Visiting Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences sometime back to attend the US alumni community service programme arranged by students of Pakistan, India and the US, was an interesting experience. Going through the different wards with the students, I could not help but wish that volunteering or community service programmes be held in the country on a regular basis. Talking with the children in the hospital, sharing jokes and stories with them and trying to put a smile on their faces made the whole experience worthwhile. In the US and in Europe, community service is often made obligatory for those who are ...

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My experience with ‘Call-a-Rik’

Travelling around by rickshaw is something most Pakistanis, especially ones in the cities, are used to. Travelling through a ‘Rik’, though, is an entirely different experience! When a colleague told me about the Call-a-Rik service, I immediately decided to give this new addition in the public transport of Pakistan a try. Here is my account of the experience. Reserving a Rik: I visited the website of the service and found it be very distasteful. They definitely need a better web designer, but I digress. The purpose of my visit was to gather some information about the service and to book ...

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Pak Business Express Train – good, but far from great

Recently, I travelled through the Pak Business Express train that runs between Karachi and Lahore and is a comparatively new venture within the railway scene of Pakistan. Don’t cringe yet; this was all before the recent protests where passenger trains were set on fire and before Pakistan Railways temporarily suspended services of trains travelling from Lahore to Rawalpindi. I was accompanied by over 70 people, all headed to Islamabad via Lahore to attend the reunion of YES students. Our tickets were pre-funded and averaged Rs10,oo0 per person for a round trip. I remember receiving the tickets and being in the doldrums at the thought of ...

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Railways: Down and almost out

The rail service from Balochistan to the rest of the country remained suspended for a day, a few days ago, for want of fuel, mainly diesel, and this immensely inconvenienced ordinary people. As expected, the chapter was closed after headquarters dispatched enough diesel to restore the service. Balochistan covers around 44 per cent of the country’s land mass and its population is much below that in other provinces. Britain, at the time of its occupation, was not interested in carrying out socio- economic development in this region for obvious reasons but it is remembered for laying down the precious railway tracks ...

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