Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Karachi Coastline: Endangered Mangroves

Back in 2007 I had done a series of posts, many in partnership with Civil Society members on Karachi's threatened coastline. Since then the situation has worsened. Unchecked construction in the name of development is threatening the coastline. An increase in untreated sewage running into the Arabia Sea is having adverse affects on the marine plant and animal life, not to mention local indigenous fisher folk's livelihood;

Following is a brief video produced by Nameera Ahmad, in association with NuktaArt on the Mangroves of Karachi and an IUCN re-plantation project ...

Other related posts:

Karachi Coastline Under Threat
A Dying Breed: The Baloch Fisher Folk
Save the beaches: Karachi's coastline under threat
Sahil Bachao...Save Karachi Beaches (Petition)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Flood Relief Campaign for Southern Pakistan

The earthquake’s  that hit Pakistan in 2005 and 2008  were regarded as the worst tragedy for the nation. Few have realized that the recent floods have in fact caused more damage then those earthquake’s did. As per latest reports official figures stand at 1600 dead and 12 million left homeless.
The Monsoon rains began  two weeks ago and have washed away roads, bridges and communications lines, hampering rescue efforts by aid organizations and the government. The downpours have grounded many aircraft trying to rescue people and ferry aid, including six helicopters manned by US troops on secondment from Afghanistan. Continue reading ...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Making Sense of Shalimar SF Restaurant story ... San Francisco Bay Area ... Pakistani & Indian Cuisine

Indian Chatkhara, Fremont, California
The Shalimar Restaurant group is a 15 to 20 year old chain of Restuarants from the San Francisco Bay Area. Recently they've under gone a major re-org where one store has apparently been sold and a new store under a new brand opened. 

Recently, while trying to get a quick bite at Chatkhara Restaurant I was surprised to learn that this is essentially Shalimar.  

I inquired with the person in charge at Chatkhara on what's the deal with the new name. His reply, in Urdu was: "is key peechey kahani hai" -- meaning to say "there is a story behind this."

That said, Shalimar now has 5 entities:

2 in San Francisco branded as "Shalimar"
1 in Sunnyvale branded as "Shalimar"
1 in Fremont called "Shalimar"
1 in Fremont branded as "Indian Chatkhara"

Interestingly when I first went to the Shalimar Restaurant in Fremont they informed me that they were closed and I should go next door to Chatkhara as that's also their store. 

My initial assumption for the new branding has something to do with Taxation matters. Which doesn't surprise me as after all they've had a Cash Only policy. Implying that,  more than likely they've been under reporting there actual income.  Given there rapid growth over the past 15 years I wouldn't be surprised if they're on some  sort IRS watch-list. 

Based on this assumption one could easily explain the reason for the name change. However, that still doesn't explain their divestment from the Sunnyvale entity, that is if the Shalimar group has indeed sold it. As folks at the Fremont Shalimar and Chatkhara claim that they've sold the Sunnyvale entity, however Sunnyvale entity folks deny their claims. Although the "Shalimar Group" website does not list the Sunnyvale entity, which could mean they've sold that store -- however what about the brand? Have they sold the rights to the "Shalimar" brand as well, or have some sort of co-use branding arrangement? 

One other interesting differentiation to note between  Shalimar and Chatkhara is the latter except credit cards. 

Which points back to my initial assumption where the Shalimar entity, due to it's growth has come under IRS scrutiny, and so the reason for them to divest and re-brand. Though, I don't buy the divestment story. I think it's safe to assume that the divestment is within the Shalimar Group as a short term strategy to clear any record that may exist with the IRS. With their long term strategy leaning towards an all out re-branding and name change from Shalimar to Chatkhara.

Reference links: 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Shame on you Pakistan ... is this how "we" treat our hero's?

How shameful ... and disrespectful "we" can be ...

Prem Chand’s coffin was marked as “Kafir”, which the parliamentarians “strongly condemned”. “He called himself a social worker. No person has the right to decide who goes to heaven or hell,” said one teary-eyed parliamentarian.

Continue reading ....

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Using Social Media to Build Community ... and Resistance

Following is a roundtable discussion hosted by Amy Goodman from DemocracyNow on social media with Aimee Allison, founder of OaklandSeen; hip-hop journalist and activist, Davey D; and Cheryl Contee, aka Jill Tubman, co-founder of the political blog "Jack and Jill Politics."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pakistan -- Crackdown on Social Networking Sites

Late Wednesday evening, May 19th the popular Social Networking site Facebook was declared banned by Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) after a court order was issued by the Lahore High Court (LHC). The move was in response to a page on the site called "Everyone Draw Mohammad Day", exhorting Facebook users to draw the caricature of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him), in the hope of spurning debate to Muslim objections to images of their faiths founder.

The following day, May 20th reports started coming in that the Social Video sharing site, YouTube and the online FREE and popular encyclopedia Wikipedia had joined the list of PTA blacklisted sites. In the latest round of belligerent attacks, Twitter another popular Social Networking site was blocked at mid-night on Friday, May 21st, U.S. / Pacific Time. 

In the immediate aftermath of the Facebook blockade, various members from Pakistan's Technology, Business and Civil Society launched a nation wide campaign in defense of Internet Freedom. On May 21st, under the leadership of Awab Alvi and Sabeen Mahmud a Press Conference was held at the Karachi Press Club. Additionally, after a brief exchange of tweets between Abdulrahman Rafiq, Ramla Aktar, Awab Alvi, and Sabahat Ashraf the Internet Censorship Wiki page was launched.  The Wiki serves as a means to document, disseminate and evaluate damages that might arise or have arisen from the Internet blockade.

In today's highly connected world, where individuals and business use Social Media and Social Networking  to influence decisions, restricting access has far reaching economic consequences that can effect the countries Business health for years to come. It's appalling how the court, PTA, and Ministry of IT have shown little regard to this  fact.

Since May 18th, the PTA has restricted access to over a 1,000 websites from Pakistan. Websites have never been blocked in such a large number before. The Government is jcracking down on any website that it finds promoting Draw Muhammad Day campaign. Even the Websites promoting Facebook Proxies have been blocked.

Regardless of the reason, no Government body has the right to restrict it's citizens access to the internet. It is, as stipulated in the Constitution of Pakistan,
Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press
Additionally, as Sabahat Ashraf pointed out on a Facebook comment,
Constitutions are written exactly so that a simple majority of citizens--or a vocal minority driving public opinion--does not do things that are immoral, unethical, inhumane, or adverse to the long-term interests of a community. Speech is not free until people are free to say things that the majority does NOT want to hear.
Article 19: Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. 

*Image by Sabeen Mahmud, sent via Twitter. Apparently Maxcom and a few other ISP's in Pakistan continue to allow limited access to Twitter. 

Friday, April 09, 2010

Pakistan Story --- shedding light on the present from lessons of the past ...Part I

PAKISTAN: STORY 1: In the first of three special reports from Pakistan, a look the problems Pakistan is facing as a result of the 7 year war in neighbouring Afghanistan. There are now said to be 3 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan; their presence seems to have exacerbated the tensions inside the country and there are also accusations that they are involved in drug-smuggling and gun-running. Intvws Unnamed refugee, Ayaz Amir (Columnist, Dawn Magazine), John Kirke (Planning Consultant), Said Azhar (Commissioner for Refugees), Alan Williams (Planning Consultant) & Unnamed Training Officer. McDONALD,TREVOR

PAKISTAN STORY 2: Intvw with President Zia Ul-Haq on challenge from Benazir Bhutto with her Pakistan Peoples Party which is becoming a strong opposition: He also comments on possible solution for Afghanistan as Pakistan is caught in the crossfire providing a home for Afghan refugeess, support Afghan guerrillas while maintaining diplomatic relations with Russia. MCDONALD,TREVOR

PAKISTAN STORY 3: In the final report from Pakistan a look at the future for for Benazir Bhutto as she meets some supporters who relatives were killed in a political demonstration: President Zia Ul- Haq has maintained that the Pakistan Peoples Party is a spent force: Intvws Benazir Bhutto, Ahmed Rashid (Observer Pakistan Correspondent), Mushahid Hussein (Editor 'Moslem'). McDONALD,TREVOR

Friday, April 02, 2010

Oldest Brewery in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan -- Muree Beer

Can't export a drop, that's ridiculous. Seriously speaking how much longer will we bend over backwards to appease the Mullahs, who aren't the most perfect of human beings themselves, especially behind closed doors?

Following is a brief presentation about Pakistan's oldest Brewery, Muree Beer founded in 1861 and was recently listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE-100), continue reading at HuqMusings. Tobacco and Alcohol are one of the top revenue generators for the Government of Pakistan, yet Alcohol export is prohibited.

Monday, January 11, 2010

On Fear

Fear is the number one killer of society and all things good. Fear prevents you from going all out, fear of being excommunicated from Society and Community is what will destroy you.

It forces man (or woman) to compromise upon core human values and principles.

Beware of Fears trappings -- Greed and Ego. Remain steadfast to your principles.

Cross posting from http://facebook.com/arafiq

Copyright C. Abdulrahman Rafiq