Saturday, December 28, 2013

Founders Day Program 2013 in the San Francisco Bay Area

What keeps many Bay Area Pakistanis busy over Christmas?  They attend the annual ‘Founders Day’ program celebrating the birthday of the Pakistani savior, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.  This year’s gathering at the Chandni Restaurant in Newark, California was a well-organized event featuring a movie ‘The Other Side of Pakistan’ produced by Asghar Aboobaker and associates, a slide show on Jinnah, few short speeches (by Syed Nusrat, Javed Ellahie, Asghar Aboobaker, and Dr. Waheed Siddiqui), a comedy act by Bay Area comedian Faraz, and a long-well-into-the-night-running music program (Asad Waince sang karaoke).
Sponsors of Founders Day 2013 included:
The Chandni Restaurant (
The Pakistan Association of San Francisco Bay Area (
The Pakistani American Culture Center (
Tri City Travel (
Ms. Raana Faiz (Hamrahi Radio)
Mr. Javed Ellahie (Ellahie & Farooqi Law Firm--
Mr. Tashie Zaheer (Urdu Academy--
Mr. Khalid Rana (KNR Services--
Mr. Shan Saigal (Referral Realty--
Mr. & Mrs. Ahsan and Tajwer Sajjad
Mr. Khalid Khokhar (KK Builders--
Mr. Kamran Mahmood (New York Life)
Mrs. Mehreen Mahmood (AAA Insurance)

Mr. Shahid Salimi (Indus Foods)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

'Five Broken Cameras' screened at the Santa Clara University Library

‘Five Broken Cameras’ is somewhat of an unintentional film.  The footage taken over years by Emad Burnat, a resident of Bil’in village in the West Bank, is put together with footage taken by Guy Davidi, the Israeli director of the movie, and others to make a film on the Palestinian life under the Israeli occupation.   The documentary is not about ‘Five Broken Cameras’ per se; it is rather about five cameras that got broken after taking some awesome footage.

The story of Emad’s five cameras-- each one of it got busted in an act of violence--is interwoven with many other stories: that of his own children growing up under siege, of Israel’s land grab, of the building of barrier walls around Palestinian villages, of the Jewish settlers moving in the newly constructed homes, and of relentless protests by the Palestinians.

Besides being educational about the plight of the Palestinians, ‘Five Broken Cameras’ proves two things.  One, that in this new age credible history is only whatever can be shown to the world through a video footage, and, Two, that Israeli snipers are really sharp-shooters —they can aim at a hand-held camera and shoot exactly that object, sparing the person holding the camera.

A screening of ‘Five Broken Cameras’, at the Santa Clara University Library on November 12, organized under the auspices of the ‘Culture and Conflict Forum’ and sponsored by the Muslim Student Association (Santa Clara University) was attended by around 35 people.

A Q&A session with Ziad Abbas, Manager for Cross-Cultural programs at the Middle East Children's Alliance in Berkeley and Bethlehem, Palestine, took place after the screening.

Friday, September 20, 2013

TCF Directors in SF Bay Area

Besides giving a presentation at Chandni on September 15, TCF directors also met people at the residence of Bay Area entrepreneur and businessman Naveed Sherwani, on Monday, September 16. Here you see (L to R) Ateed Riaz, Nilofer Saeed, and Mushtaq Chhapra.

TCF meeting at Chandni

In between meeting Urdu Academy folks and attending Sheema Kermani’s program I was able to briefly attend the TCF (The Citizens Foundation) meeting.  Mushtaq Chhapra, a TCF founder-director, was heard recounting TCF’s journey, its accomplishments, and the future plans.

Fayyaz Uddin Saieb's “Kuch Khawab Uthaya Phirta Houn”

The Urdu Academy mushaira program also included an exordium to Fayyaz Uddin Saieb’s new Urdu poetry book “Kuch Khawab Uthaya Phirta Houn.”

Urdu Academy of Northern California

How long can a mushaira last?  For hours and hours, if it is good.  Urdu Academy mushaira held on Sunday, September 15 was really good, attendees tell me.  When I reached Chandni, around 7 pm, to attend Sheema Kermani’s program I found the Urdu Academy key players still hanging out.  Here is a photo featuring (L to R) Fayyazuddin Saieb, Syed Ilyas Ahmed, Khalid Rana, Basir Kazmi, and Tashie Zaheer.

Chandni it is

Last Sunday (September 15) was a very busy day, as several programs—of interest to the Bay Area residents of Pakistan descent—took place, all on that day. 
Urdu Academy’s annual mushaira (12 pm-7 pm), a presentation by TCF (The Citizen Foundation), and theater and dance by Sheema Kermani and her troupe (7 pm- 10:30 pm), kept attendees running from one program to another.  Chandni Restaurant in Newark appears to have become the primary choice of Pakistanis for holding social events.  Here you see Chandni’s owner Syed Sarwat (on right) with journalist Abdus Sattar Ghazali.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Ro Khanna vs. Mike Honda

Ro Khanna vs. Mike Honda

How does Ro Khanna like his candidacy to be seen by voters when he runs against longtime incumbent Mike Honda in the elections next year?  Khanna wants to be seen as the voice of the new generation, voice of the people who are tired of ‘business as usual’ in the government, and a candidate of all those who want things to change.  In a meeting at writer and community activist iFaqeer’s residence in Fremont on Saturday, June 22, Khanna explained to the small group how he plans to make California competitive in the manufacturing sector, and how to invest wisely in education.  Will Mike Honda, 71, be better off taking retirement before the next election (and give candidates almost half of his age a chance)?  Khanna’s supporters definitely think so.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Distance Learning in Pakistan

Distance Learning in Pakistan

Koshish Foundation has been involved in generating distance learning coursework through two programs:

1. Through Learntive (
Learntive has developed math videos (based on Sindh Textbook Board's Class IX and X curriculum).  The math videos are available on Learntive's web site (e.g., here: and have been distributed on CDs to government schools, through the Government of Sindh (

2. Through the translation of Khan Academy basic science videos
Koshish Foundation has recently completed translation of Khan Academy's 1000 basic math, chemistry, and physics videos, and has started work on the next batch of 1000 videos.  Many non-profit organizations (e.g., TCF, DIL) have shown interest in using the translated videos in the schools they operate.

Monday, April 15, 2013



اپریل پندرہ، دو ہزار تیرہ

ایک فکر کے سلسلے کا کالم

کالم شمار ایک سو تینتیس


کیلی فورنیا میں صنوبر کے ایسے درخت موجود ہیں جن کی عمریں چار سے پانچ ہزار سال ہیں۔ اس دنیا میں انسان کی تحریر شدہ تاریخ بمشکل تین ہزار سال پرانی ہے۔ صنوبر کے ان درختوں نے اس پوری تاریخ کا مشاہدہ کیا ہے۔ عقیدہ، نسل، زبان، اور جغرافیاءی تعلق؛ پہچان کے وہ طریقے جن پہ انسان فخر کرتا ہے، صنوبر کے اند درختوں نے ایسی پہچانوں کو بنتے اور اپنی ہءیت تبدیل کرتے دیکھا ہے۔ سنہ سینتالیس میں پنجاب کی تقسیم کے وقت کی قتل و غارت گری کے متعلق غور کیجیے۔ صنوبر کے یہ درخت یہ سوچ کر کتنا محظوظ ہوتے ہوں گے کہ ابھی چند سو سال ہی تو ہوءے ہیں کہ تم سب ایک طرح کے عقیدے رکھتے تھے، پھر ایک نیا مذہب بنا، کچھ لوگ اس مذہب کے ساتھ ہوگءے اور سکھ کہلاءے، تم میں سے دوسرے مسلمان ہوگءے، اور اب یہ عالم ہے کہ تم ایک دوسرے سے دست و گریباں ہو۔ تم کیوں نہیں سمجھتے کہ جس پہچان پہ ایک دوسرے سے لڑے جا رہے ہو، مرے جا  رہے ہو، اسے بنے جمعہ جمعہ آٹھ دن ہی تو ہوءے ہیں۔  عقیدے کی پہچان کے ساتھ ساتھ نسلی، لسانی، اور جغرافیاءی تعلق کا بھی یہی ماجرہ ہے۔ یہ ساری پہچانیں مستقل تبدیل ہو رہی ہیں۔ لوگ نقل مکانی کر کے ایک جگہ سے دوسری جگہ پہنچ جاتے ہیں، اور پھر وہ نیا علاقہ، نیا ماحول، نءے موسم ان کو نسل در نسل تبدیل کرتے جاتے ہیں۔ اسی طرح زبانیں بھی مستقل بدلتی رہتی ہیں۔ لیکن انسان کی زندگی بہت مختصر ہے۔ اور اس مختصر زندگی میں اسے اپنی پہچان سے متعلق ہر چیز ساکت نظر آتی ہے۔ وہ اپنی پہچان سے چمٹا رہتا ہے اور اگر اسے اپنے آس پاس چیزیں تبدیل ہوتی نظر آءیں تو اسے بہت برا لگتا ہے۔  
جنوبی ایشیا میں دو طرح کی سیاست کی جاتی ہے۔ ایک سیاست وہ ہے جو طبقاتی تفریق کو بنیاد بناتی ہے۔ جو کہتی ہے کہ غریب کا کوءی عقیدہ نہیں ہوتا، اس کی کوءی نسل، کوءی زبان نہیں ہوتی، اس کا کوءی جغرافیاءی تعلق نہیں ہوتا۔  ہر جگہ، ہر زبان بولنے والے، ہر عقیدے کے غریب اور کمزور ایک طرح کے لوگ ہوتے ہیں۔ اور دوسرے لوگ جو طاقتور ہیں ان پہ ظلم کرسکتے ہیں، کرتے ہیں، اور کرتے رہیں گے، جب تک کہ غریب متحد ہو کر ظلم کے خلاف آہنی دیوار نہ بن جاءیں۔ دوسری طرح کی سیاست پہچان کی سیاست ہے۔ یہ سیاست کہتی ہے کہ ایک عقیدے کے لوگ یا ایک زبان بولنے والے یا کسی خاص جگہ سے تعلق رکھنے والے لوگ ایک گروہ ہیں اور انہیں دوسرے گروہ یا گروہوں سے خطرہ ہے۔ پاکستان پہچان کی سیاست کی ہی پیداوار ہے۔ پھر اس نءے ملک نے اپنے قیام سے پہچان کی سیاست کے دوسرے کھلاڑیوں کو متحرک کیا۔
سنہ سینتالیس میں قیام پاکستان سے ان علاقوں کا جو اس وقت پاکستان میں ہیں آبادی کا تناسب تبدیل ہونا شروع ہوا۔ ایک طرف مقامی سکھ اور ہندو آبادی کو ڈرا دھمکا کر ملک بدر کیا گیا اور دوسری طرف ہندوستان میں ڈراءے دھمکانے جانے والے لوگ اور وہ جو بہتر معاشی مواقع کی تلاش میں تھے، اس نءے ملک میں آگءے۔ مشرقی پنجاب سے مغربی پنجاب آنے والے اپنے ساتھ پنجابی کے نءے لہجے لاءے مگر زبان کی یکسانیت کی وجہ سے مقامی آبادی میں گھل مل گءے۔  سندھ میں آنے والے مہاجر ریل گاڑیوں سے آءے اور ریل کی پٹری کے ساتھ ساتھ آباد تمام بڑے شہروں میں بس گءے۔ راتوں رات کراچی اور حیدرآباد کی آبادی کا نقشہ بدل گیا۔ اس بدلتی صورتحال کو دیکھ کرسندھی راہ نما ءوں کے پاءوں تلے زمین نکل گءی۔ ان کو اندازہ ہوا کہ وہ اپنی ہی دھرتی پہ اجنبی بنتے جا رہے ہیں۔ اور اسی احساس سے سندھ قوم پرستی کی بنیاد پڑی۔ کہ نءے ملک کی نءی لسانی پہچان سے اس پرانے گروہ کی پہچان مجروح ہورہی تھی۔ پہچان کی ایسی ہی سیاست بلوچستان میں بھی کی جاتی ہے۔ یہ خیال کیا جاتا ہے کہ اگر ہمارا علاقہ اپنے طور پہ ایک الگ ملک ہوتا تو ہم اپنی زبان اور طور طریقوں کے ساتھ آرام سے رہتے، اپنے سامنے اپنی پہچان تبدیل ہوتے نہ دیکھتے۔ اور پرانی دنیا میں ہر بیس میل کے فاصلے پہ لوگوں کی ایک جدا علاقاءی پہچان ہے۔ وہ اپنی اس پہچان سے محبت کرتے ہیں اور اسے اپنی آنکھوں کے سامنے تبدیل ہوتا نہیں دیکھنا چاہتے۔ یورپ سے درآمد شدہ ریاست اور قوم کے تصورات ایسی پرتنوع علاقءی پہچانوں کو مسخ کرنے کا سبب بن رہے ہیں۔

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

After rocking San Jose, Sunidhi Chauhan & Ali Zafar ready to thrill LA

After rocking San Jose, Sunidhi Chauhan & Ali Zafar ready to thrill LA

Sunday blues!  What Sunday blues? Especially if you get a chance to hear two bright South Asian music stars sing on a Sunday night and fill you up with adrenaline for the rest of the week.  In a concert dubbed Krazy 2 Sunidhi Chauhan and Ali Zafar performed at the San Jose University Event Center on Sunday, April 7.  And what a memorable, thrilling performance it was!  Sunidhi Chauhan is an amazing singer who with her aeonic stamina can go on entertaining the crowd for hours.  On April 7, Sunidhi Chauhan, Ali Zafar, Rakesh Maini, and the accompanying dancers enthralled the 2000 plus crowd for over three and a half hours.  Proceeds from the concert benefited Sankara Eye Foundation, a non-profit organization with a vision to be able to perform one million free eye surgeries annually by the year 2020. 
Sunidhi Chauhan and Ali Zafar will cast their magic again on April 20 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

In a press conference held the next day Sankara Eye Foundation organizers of the concert, Murali Krishnamurthy, Yogi Patel, Barjesh P Upadhyay, Sachindra Nath and others explained to the reporters Sanakar’s goals.  Sunidhi Cahuhan and Ali Zafar answered questions about their personal lives and professional aspirations.
Sunidhi Chauhan and Ali Zafar’s North America tour is being promoted by Mr. Rakesh Kaushal (Rocky).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NED University’s Alleged Al-Qaeda Connection

NED University’s Alleged Al-Qaeda Connection

There are over 60,000 living NED graduates in the world today.  With such a large population, it is expected that NED alumni will be found in diverse fields.  It should not be surprising to learn that a few NEDians have even been implicated in ‘jihad’ activities.  Let's start with Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, a 2001 Computer Engineering graduate from the NED University.  There are conflicting reports about his involvement with Al-Qaeda.  Some describe Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan as the IT Chief of Al-Qaeda, others consider him a CIA operative assigned to penetrate the terrorist network.  This NEDian was arrested in 2004, but was later released for ‘lack of evidence.’
Another NEDian known for jihad is TV analyst, Zaid Hamid, a 1989 Computer Engineering graduate. It is said that Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid was enrolled at the NED University when he went to Afghanistan for jihad against the Soviet Union.
The latest allegation of an NEDian’s involvement in terrorist activities has come from Portland, Oregon where Reaz Qadir Khan, a 1987 Mechanical Engineering graduate was arrested--later released on bail bond--for providing material support to terrorists.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo [Reuters/U.S. Marshall Service/Handout]

The NED University Terrorists
The NED Taliban
Al-Qaeda and the NED
War on Terror and the NED University of Engineering & Technology, Karachi, Pakistan
NED graduates and the War on Terror
Jihad by the NED Alumni
NEDian, NEDians arrested
Riaz Khan, Riaz Qadir Khan, Ryaz Qadir, Riaz Kadir, Riaz Qadeer, Reaz Qadeer
ریاض قادر خان، این ای ڈی یونیورسٹی، القاءدہ، طالبان، علی جلیل مالدیپی، خود کش حملہ آور، لاہور، ریاض خان

Friday, March 15, 2013

Is it safe to travel to Pakistan?

Pakistan is a failed state and cannot guarantee your security.  The failure of the state is obvious in the daily news of target-killings, terrorist attacks, and kidnappings for ransom: most of these cases remain unsolved. 
AVOID travel to Pakistan if you can.

BUT if you have to…
Pakistan is slightly 'safer' for travelers of Pakistani descent and others who don’t stand out as people of European descent.

If you are of Pakistani descent you are ‘safe’ in urban centers—restrict your movement and keep only close relatives and friends informed about your travel plans.  Pakistani-descent people are relatively ‘safe’ traveling on train on the main N-S line (Karachi to Peshawar).
In Sind, traveling by bus or car on the east side of the Indus is slightly ‘safer’ than traveling on the west side of that river.
In Punjab (and specially north of Multan), traveling by bus during daytime should be safe.  It is also ‘safe’ to travel by bus to Peshawar.
It is not safe to travel in Balochistan if you are not a Baloch or Pashtun.  Even if you are Pushtun you should avoid traveling south of Quetta--it is all Allah-Nazar country where ethnic cleansing seems to be the adopted policy of the Baloch nationalists (more murders like that of Mehmood Afridi coming up soon--Punjabis and Muhajirs have been fair game for a much longer time).

Travelers of European descent
If you really, really, really have to travel to Pakistan, the ‘safest’ place to travel to is Islamabad.  Fly in Islamabad, move around in Islamabad, and fly out of Islamabad.

If you are traveling to Karachi, leave the airport and reach back to it only during daytime, with good traffic on Shahra e Faisal.  Ditto for Lahore.  It is also relatively ‘safe’ to cross Wagah border into Pakistan and then take taxi to Lahore.  Traveling on Daewoo buses in northern Punjab, during daytime should also be 'safe.' Do NOT travel in KP or Balochistan—unless you wish to financially support the Taliban or the Baloch nationalists for their respective wars, through ransom money to be paid by your relatives/government.

[This writer feels qualified to give travel advice not only because he keeps his ear to the ground, but also because has been traveling to Pakistan every year. In January 2013, he took Khyber-Mail from Karachi to Mirpur Mathelo; traveled by car from MM to Sadiqabad; took Daewoo bus from Sadiqabad to Multan; after a short stay in Multan, took another bus from Multan to Lahore.  A couple of years back he flew from Karachi to Gwadar, stayed there and watched with interest Chinese engineers escorted to the airport in armored vehicle.  He has also traveled on bus from Old Sabzee Mandi in Karachi to Quetta; has taken train from Quetta to Taftan (crossing into Iran); has taken a 4X4 from Taftan to Quetta.  Has also flown from Karachi to Dalbadin and then taken 4X4 taxi to Taftan.  He has traveled overland from Karachi to Khunjerab (crossing into China); has crossed Wagah into India by train and on foot, multiple times; there have many other trips throughout Pakistan.  He once found himself stranded at the Dadu train station unable to go to Moenjo Daro because of a ‘police muqabla’, with IG Sindh surrounded by unhappy armed people.  In short, he has firsthand knowledge of Pakistan’s gradual descent into chaos.]

Will I be safe in Pakistan?  Is traveling in Pakistan safe?  Is Iran-Pakistan border crossing safe?  Is it safe to go to Pakistan overland from India?  Is overland travel in Pakistan safe?  Is it safe to travel by train in Pakistan?  Train travel in Pakistan.  Bus travel in Pakistan.  Karachi to Lahore train.  Karachi to Peshawar train.  Karachi to Quetta train.  Quetta to Zahedan train.  Pakistan travel information.  Pakistan travel warning.  Tourism in Pakistan.  Sightseeing in Pakistan.  A trip to Pakistan.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tourists, Stay Out of Pakistan

Adventurist Globetrotters, 

Please fight the temptation to visit Pakistan. There are at least two civil wars going on there.  If you visit, there is a very good chance that you will be either killed or kidnapped for ransom.

Czech women tourists kidnapped in Balochistan: officials

QUETTA: Unidentified gunmen on Wednesday kidnapped two women tourists from the Czech Republic in Pakistan’s insurgency-hit southwestern province of Balochistan, officials said.
Local government officials said the women entered the province from Iran as tourists and were abducted from an area some 550 kilometres (350 miles) west of Quetta, the main town of Balochistan which borders both Iran and Afghanistan.
“Both the women were from Czech Republic and entered in Pakistan as tourists,” Akbar Hussain Durrani, the provincial home secretary told AFP.
“Gunmen stopped their bus in the Nok Kundi area of Chaghi district and abducted both of them.” Durrani said women were being escorted by a tribal policeman when they were abducted. The guard was also taken captive but was later freed.
Nobody from the Czech embassy was available to comment late Wednesday but Qambar Dashti, a senior government official in Quetta confirmed the incident.
Kidnappings plague parts of Balochistan and northwest Pakistan, where criminals looking for ransom snatch foreigners and locals, sometimes passing their hostages on to Taliban and al Qaeda-linked groups.
Balochistan has been hit by an insurgency in recent years with Baloch nationalists demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the province’s wealth of natural oil, gas and mineral resources.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Attacked with US drones, torn apart from internal sectarian strife, Pakistan looks for a savior in a retired sportsman

Attacked with US drones, torn apart from internal sectarian strife, Pakistan looks for a savior in a retired sportsman

Though Imran Khan is still the cult leader Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has grown around, there are now other recognizable faces in that young political party’s leadership. Fauzia Kasuri is one of those four or five prominent persons that came to mind when you think of the PTI top brass. On Sunday, March 10, Kasuri spoke to a 60-plus gathering of PTI supporters passionately—and with troublesome religious overtones—about the need for a change in Pakistan, claiming her boss, Imran Khan, can turn things around in that troubled country.  The fund-raiser, organized by the Bay Area chapter of PTI was held at the Mehran Restaurant in Newark.

While many young starry-eyed Pakistanis are swayed by Imran Khan’s charm, historians are taking notes of PTI’ promises—the two most important being that after coming in power in Pakistan, PTI will:
Make Pakistan disassociate itself from the US War on Terror and have US stop all drone attacks.
Wipe off all institutional corruption within 90 days.

Besides the main guest, Dr. Dianne Budd (a Code Pink volunteer who participated in PTI’s 2012 march in protest of US drone attacks), Shahab Siddiqui (of Mehran Restaurant), Aftab Yaqub, Javed Tufail, and M. Irfan also spoke at the program.

Listen to Fauzia Kasuri’s speech here:

Monday, February 25, 2013

Eating Grass: An Insider’s Account of the Pakistani Nuclear Program

Eating Grass: An Insider’s Account of the Pakistani Nuclear Program

A few English speakers will definitely be surprised to know that the first part of the title of Feroz Hassan Khan’s book “Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistani bomb” has no relation to the phrase ‘smoking grass.’  ‘Eating grass’ is a literal translation of an Urdu saying; an idiomatic translation of that phrase will be ‘Going hungry.’  The ‘Eating grass’ phrase used in this context comes from a 1965 statement made by the then Pakistani Foreign Minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.  Bhutto, responding to news of India’s plans to make an atomic bomb said if India made a bomb, the Pakistanis would go through any hardship to attain matching nuclear capability.
What makes Brigadier (Retired) Feroz Hassan Khan qualified to write a book on Pakistan’s nuclear program, taking the reader through its various historical phases?  First, Feroz Khan is a scholar and a defense analyst, currently teaching at Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, and second, more importantly, serving in the Strategic Plans Division, Joint Services Headquarters of the army, Feroz Khan was involved with Pakistan Army’s supervision of the nuclear program till his retirement in 2003.  ‘Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistani bomb’ is very much an insider’s account of the Pakistani nuclear program.
Feroz Hassan Khan’s book, published by the Stanford University Press, is being promoted in Pakistan and the US through book review meetings.  On Sunday, February 10, over 150 people attended a discussion on ‘Eating Grass’ held at Fremont Marriott. The program was arranged by Sabahat Rafiq, a Democratic Party delegate for the 2012 Democratic Convention, and Naveed Sherwani, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur.
The program began with an introduction of the book and the writer by Sabahat Rafiq.  Rafiq said, “Interwoven in this story [Brigadier Feroz Khan’s account of the making of the bomb] are some fundamental strategic policies of the First World narrative for non-proliferation wherein the former seeks to badger the later into non-proliferation and yet fails to provide guarantee for their security and territorial integrity. To add insult to injury there is an ever pervasive suggestion of First World’s hegemony over common sense, innovation, and sensible responsibility…and sometimes outright contempt.

“The former also continues to swap alliances and partnerships based on their own shifting strategic interests, to maintain global hegemony without due regard to the security interest of a former ally.” 

Rafiq narrated to the audience Pakistan’s various phases of alliance [with the US] Feroz Khan had identified in his book.  These phases were: most allied of the allies in the 60s, the most sanctioned ally in the 90s, and the most bullied ally in the 2000s.
Sabahat Rafiq briefly described the five stages —delineated in the book—Pakistani nuclear program passed through.  The five phases being: i) Reluctant Phase, from 60s to 1971; ii) Secret Nuclear R&D Program phase, a corollary of the ‘Never Again’ conviction [after Pakistan’s humiliating defeat by the Indian Army in 1971], iii) the 80s and 90s phase, pertaining to the weaponization of the nuclear capability, and demonstration of that strength, iv)  Post-98 era wherein Pakistan’s nascent nuclear program was to be tuned into an operation deterrent , and v) Present Stage (Post 911)—when Pakistan’s nuclear capability is watched with interest, by the world.
In his speech Feroz Hassan Khan said it took him more than a decade to write the book.  He said shortly after joining the Naval Postgraduate School in 2003, the news of AQ Khan’s revealed network stunned Pakistan.  A ship named BBC China was caught in the Mediterranean-- allegedly, the German ship bound for Libya from Dubai was carrying centrifuge parts made in Malaysia, to AQ Khan’s design.

Feroz Khan said a year after that incident he was interviewing Musharraf in Pakistan.  Khan asked Musharraf what was the most difficult of the five crises Musharraf went through during his tenure as the head of the army—the five crises being the Kargil war, the 1998 coup, 911, 2002 standoff with India, and the AQ Khan scandal.  Musharraf told Khan it was the AQ Khan ordeal.  Khan was curious to know why the AQ Khan case was so debilitating for Musharraf.  According to Feroz Khan, Musharraf said, “In all previous crises, as a military man, my gut would tell me what to do.”   But this was one crisis, whose extent he (Musharraf) did not know, whose implication he did not understand…this was like a train hitting him straight.  Feroz Khan told Musharraf of his apprehension that from then on (after the revelation of AQ Khan’s network selling nuclear technology to all willing to pay) Pakistan’s nuclear program would be reviewed through only one lens.  Musharraf asked Khan what could be done about that [so that Pakistan’s nuclear program would not be reviewed so unfavorably by the international community].  Feroz Khan suggested to Musharraf the best way was to get to the world a holistic picture of the program (through a book).   Musharraf agreed with Khan. A year later Khan and Peter Lavoy (presently Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs)—both Khan and Lavoy were going to write the book together—presented a comprehensive outline of how they intended to proceed, and requested access to Pakistani nuclear professionals and to declassified documents.  According to Khan, after a very careful scrutiny Khan and Lavoy were allowed to interview retired scientists, military and civilian officials, and academics.  After Lavoy left the book writing project in 2007 to accept a government job, Khan took it upon himself to complete the work.

Feroz Khan said critics of his book accuse him of playing down the AQ Khan scandal.  He said his book does not go too much into the detail of the scandal as three to four books on that subject already exist.

Feroz Khan considers his book “a human story, a book about a country’s life history.  It is just not about proliferation (alone).”  He described to the audience the “seven factors” he had weaved in the book: 1) the ‘strategic culture’, Pakistan’s historical experience and how it feels about its existence in the world, ii) domestic politics, iii) regional security crises and wars, iv) cold war, the alliance politics, the disillusionment with the alliance, while cleverly benefiting from the alliance politics, v) the international non-proliferation regime and the challenges, a section in the book is called ‘the Toms and Jerrys of the World’, vi) idiosyncrasies of the personalities, and vii) the technical determinism.

Feroz Khan’s speech was followed by a Q&A session moderated by Sabahat Rafiq.
Dr. Syed Rifaat Hussain, a professor of security studies from Pakistan, currently visiting the Stanford University was also invited to give his views on the book and on Pakistan’s nuclear program.

Listen to the audio of the program here:

This report is also here:

An Urdu version of this report is here:

NED Alumni Convention 2013

NED Alumni Convention 2013

There is a lot of confusion about this year’s NED Alumni Convention.  Where is it going to be?  When?  It is almost the end of February and we don’t know much about the date or the venue of NED Alumni Convention 2013.  The other day I was talking to a friend based in the UAE; he wanted to attend this year’s convention and apply for the US visa--it is currently taking 4-6 months for the US to process visa applications of Pakistan citizens.  I asked him to apply for the US visa after registering for the convention, so that he would have something to show to the consulate.  But he cannot register for the convention because no web site has been created for this year’s NEDian Convention.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

This Karachi target killing case is easy to crack

This Karachi target killing case is easy to crack

Two religious scholars from Jamia Uloom-e-Islamia of Banuri Town and a student were ambushed and killed in a brazen target killing operation in the very crowded Nursery area of Karachi on Thursday, January 31.  Abdul Majeed Deenpuri, Mufti Saleh Muhamad , and student Muhammad Hassan Ali Shah (driver) were traveling in a Suzuki high-roof when they were targeted in broad daylight.

Here is the camera footage of the killing.

We believe this a fairly simple case to solve.  Here is how.

What do we know about the killing?
We know the date, time, and exact place.

Any basic information about the killers?
The surveillance camera footage is not very clear to recognize the faces of the three men, but heights of two men who fired their guns can be estimated in comparison with the height of the Suzuki high-roof-- based on the time of the day and the length of the shadows, estimates of heights can be corroborated.

Information about where the killers came from and where they went
The same camera that shows the killing can possibly give us information about the time when these three men arrived at the scene, and the direction they came from.  Based on that information we can use surveillance cameras on other buildings to trace their path to the scene.  The footage clearly shows where they went.  Footage from cameras mounted on various buildings should be pieced together to establish the escape route of the killers and any other information we can gather.

Yes, there were at least two.  The two people (roadside vendors?) you see running to take cover at 0:21 (after hearing the first shots) must have seen the three men waiting at the crime scene, for the arrival of the high-roof.

Establishing the identity of the killers
The target-killers knew that the high-roof was coming to that intersection.  Clearly there was a regular daily schedule people in the high-roof people kept.  How did the killers find out that schedule?  Most probably by following the high-roof for a couple of days.  We should look at the surveillance camera footage from previous days to establish who had been following the high-roof.
It is also very certain that someone followed the Suzuki high-roof on the day of the killing too.  The high-roof could be stuck in traffic, but the killers needed to be alert at the right time.  There must have been someone who followed the high-roof from the point it started moving and came following it the all the way to Nursery.  Who was it?  We believe it was the motorcyclist in light-colored shirt we see at 0:27 (he stops his motorcycle to check out the scene).
The person who was following the Suzuki high-roof must have been communicating with these three people on the mobile phone.  Anyone who uses modern technology to commit a crime leaves behind a lot of evidence.  Narrowing the time of the killing, investigations can be made about the cell phone numbers in connection with the cell-phone towers of the area, during that time.  The investigators can get records from the cell phone companies having service in that area, for calls made in that particular geographical area (cell) on that day and at that time.  There can possibly be hundreds of cell phone calls made through various phone companies during that time, in that particular cell, but unnecessary information can be quickly eliminated narrowing on time  and using the other very big clue: the phone that was in communication with the killer’s phone was changing towers (as it was moving towards Nursery).

With all these evidences left-behind by the killers nabbing them should be easy and quick.
Are you listening Mushtaq Shah (IG Sindh)?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

San Jose Protest against Hazara Killings

This Martin Luther King Day over 150 protesters gathered at the San Jose City Hall to remember victims of terrorist attacks in Pakistan in general and of Quetta blasts of January 10 in particular. The twin blasts on Alamdar Road in Quetta targeted Hazara Shias and claimed more than 100 lives.

Speakers at the vigil protested against routine Shia killings in Pakistan and spoke highly of the Hazaras of Quetta who, after the January 10 blasts, sat in open, in sub-zero temperatures, with the coffins of their family members and friends killed in the blasts, to register their peaceful protest.
The candlelight vigil organized by SABA Youth was attended by members of SABA (Shia Association of Bay Area) and other concerned citizens.