Category Archives: Random

Reflections on passing away of Junaid Jamshed

The alert popped up on my Whatsapp, a plane had gone missing on the way from Chitral to Islamabad somewhere near Abbotabad. Minutes later, the same sender informed that the plane had crashed with 47 people on board. Like to many such alerts from this friend, who is a security expert and hence often the harbinger of bad news, the response was Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Rajeeoon followed by a forward of this tragic news to others on various groups etc. Yet those 47 people remained just numbers that often pass on my screens. Then came the news that Junaid Jamshed and Saeed Anwer might have been on their way back from Chitral. Suddenly the numbers became real people, a connection that made the tragedy all so real. Soon the passenger manifest was all over the media and it was confirmed by connections in the Tableeghi Jamaat that Saeed Anwer was still in Chitral but alas Junaid and his wife along with several other members of the Jamaat had indeed been aboard that ill-fated flight.

Like many who grew up in the 80s and 90s, Junaid Jamshed was a common name. From the time the Pakistani pop band Vital Signs rose to prominence by releasing what became a prominent Pakistani anthem, the handsome Junaid Jamshed become an idol for young boys and a heart throb for the girls. His voice crooned out songs that stirred the soul and were often listened to on repeat throughout my teens. Concerts were aplenty in those days and I would never miss a chance to catch Vital Signs live on stage.

As I entered college in the fag end of the 90s and subsequently went on journey of religious awakening, I stopped listening to music and then restarted as I struggled with a new me. It seems in the years that as I was struggling so was Junaid. After Vital Signs broke up, there were rumors abound that Junaid seemed to have drifted away from music but then the year after he suddenly was back in the industry as a solo artist and it was not until 2002 that he officially announced he had left music for good. The man who had inspired many subsequent names to join the industry was no longer a part of it.

His renouncement of music led to the start of a successful business career as he entered the fashion field with the help of an entrepreneur Sohail Khan. This business venture now gave Junaid the support he needed and soon the poster-boy of Pakistani pop became the public face of the Tableeghi Jamaat.

(The last Jumuah Prayer led by Junaid Jamshed a few days before. His choice of ayat, in hindsight, seems very profound)

Wrapping up that little history lesson up there, what did Junaid Jamshed mean to me? Junaid to me characterized the struggle to surrender. The same struggle that started for me somewhere in 1998 and that to some extent still goes on today: the struggle to bend my soul to follow the Commands of Allah (SWT); the struggle to mute the Disco side and to enhance the Maulvi side of me. I never got a chance to properly meet Junaid after he became a Maulvi. I did reach out to him when I was asked by some friends in the Learning & Development industry to invite him to one of their upcoming youth sessions which they wanted to have a spiritual side as well. Sadly that event never materialized and Junaid and I never met. However, during our brief interaction for the youth event he came across as a very caring and helpful person.

Today as I write this, I wonder that maybe I should have taken a bolder initiative and connected more aggressively with him. Maybe I would have learnt much from him, from his struggle to give up fame for religion and his struggle to handle a different fame that came as a religious figure and the many issues that seemed to hound him after he did so. I could have also learnt much from his struggle to contribute more to society. Sadly that chance is gone. All that is now left is to learn from his death. How he was out in the path of Allah (SWT), trying to inspire people to turn to Allah (SWT) —- and how eventually Allah (SWT) chose to take him back while he was on that Path: a martyr in sha Allah.

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Trident — Now refreshing minds (and mouths) in Pakistan

I have always been a gum chewer; yes Supari (more specifically Tulsi) was always a bigger vice of mine for a while but I was carrying Fusen Gum in my O-Levels days in a special box that ensured the gum would not get soaked in sweat in my pocket (car A/Cs in those days was a luxury and jawani mein khail kood bhi kar laitay thay kabhi kabhi).

I was known in O-Levels and earlier as Bubble (shortened from Bubblegumwala — stemming from my name Balagamwala) and to this day one of my oldest friend’s family still calls me Bubble…. choices were limited in those days — Fusen Gum, Spout (with its liquid center) and then we had BP’s Bubble Bar. This was pre- Ding Dong era and my memory eludes if Hilal was a player in those days or not. There was some local prevalent Bubblegum brand whose name eludes me currently (was it King Kong?). It certainly was not called Ding Dong.

Having quit Tulsi in 2003 and smoking in 2004 (and again quitting Tulsi in 2007 — hey one needs a crutch after giving up smokes), chewing gum was again my go-to vice. It has always gotten my brain working during periods of studying or working. And it helped keep the smoking and Tulsi cravings at bay too.

I bounced from brand to brand, never really enjoying the local brands much and after couple years of Extra (which was my brand in college in USA and I first had in 1993 when my parents returned with a big box from the USA), I gravitated to Trident Cinnamon these last couple years. I liked the chewing consistency especially when I popped two in my mouth and the Cinnamon taste was nice and strong for my liking. Extra just didn’t seem to be chewy enough for me.

Then came the whole issue with Trident posting on their page that some varieties (such as a Trident Splash) may have porcine (that’s pig-based) gelatin and all of a sudden there was always a feeling of suspicion of the ingredients in the back of my mind (though visually there is not any major red flags in the USA manufactured version of regular Trident).

Ingredients of Trident USA PackI was not going to go and have Ding Dong (I am sorry but it’s just plain bad gum). Ho hum bada bing bada bum we skip forward to current day (ok ok 2 weeks back — I take my time to write things OK)  when Mondelez Pakistan (wohi Cadbury kuch meetha hojaye walay loag) sent me a nice little arrangement — announcing the official launch of Trident in Pakistan. A big shout out to Asiatic Public Relations for keeping me on their list for this.

trident-chewing-gum-boquetFour flavors — Peppermint, Spearmint, Strawberry and Watermelon. Single piece retailing at Rs 5 and a 5-pack retailing at Rs 25. This is comparable to the “imported” version being smuggled in — the 24 piece pack is Rs 100 in retail. The official Pakistani packs are actually made in Egypt (singles) and Turkey (5-packs). The pieces are slightly flatter compared to the international version and I have to see if the actual grammage per piece is the same or not. I personally like the packaging for the Pakistan version as the 24-piece one is not a very good usability design for practical purposes.

The best part of the official version being sold (for me atleast) is that it takes care of the whole uncertainty of Halal or Haram. Here is a reply by Trident Pakistan on their Facebook page.

In every country where we sell our products, we strictly comply with local laws and regulations, and employ stringent quality procedures to ensure that our products are of the highest standard of safety and quality.

Therefore, all flavours and units of Trident being sold in Pakistan, under the umbrella of Mondelēz Pakistan Ltd., are halal certified at source.

We hope this satisfies your concern.

Ofcourse there are plenty of folks out there who are either conspiracy theory junkies or have a low level of trust. For them I advise asking the local companies for their Halal certification as well.

How does the Pakistan version fare against the US version in terms of taste? Well to be honest I have mainly stuck to Cinnamon on the US version so can’t give an apples to apples version of it. Having tried all four Pakistan flavors (thanks to the free sampler I got from Mondelez Pakistan) I have decided I would stick with Peppermint as the main flavor with Watermelon now and then for some change. Why? Well, I never liked Spearmint gum much for some reason (whichever brand it may be). So one flavor was kind of out by default. The Strawberry flavor starts off real good but the flavor disappears very fast and one starts getting a bitter taste  which I think is actually the artificial sweetner taste to blame. Watermelon is really good and lasts longer than Strawberry as well. However, it too fades a tad bit too fast for my liking. Peppermint is the one that gives me a refreshed mouth for long enough for me to tire of the gum. Actually to be honest Cinnamon is great in this aspect — the flavor keeps going extremely long. Hence, I am about to start a petition soon on Change.org asking Mondelez Pakistan for Cinnamon to be launched here. Let me know below if you would sign it.

Since the Trident gift was shared with my wife and elder son, last week I had to replenish my stocks and so I made my first official purchase. So I am now a paid customer of Trident. 🙂

All in all, being a Trident chewer before also, I am now a customer of Trident Pakistan. Now I am looking forward for Trident to launch more flavors soon to give fans a bigger choice and to keep me hooked by giving me some variety.

#Hot Secret Revealed! Infinix Pakistan to launch new Smartphone

The #HotSecret has been revealed

The #HotSecret that Daraz.pk was promoting is the launch of a smartphone by Infinix Pakistan.

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Looking at the offerings by Infinix on their website, we see some amazing design and specs. Now what needs to be seen is what the price range is for their phones. Will it be extremely high end in the category of Samsung and HTC or will it give the more economical brands like Q-Mobile, Voice, and Rivo a run for their money?

The advert for the first phone to be launched promises amazing battery life. Two days battery in a smartphone? Wow!!

Some leg work has led to the conclusion that the phone being launched is the Infinix Hot Note X551.

551sp

My guess is it will retail at PKR 11,499/- in Pakistan. If it does it will blow Q-Mobile right out of the market!

Engro Corporation — I Am The Change

“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves” (Quraan 13:11)

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Many of us are prone to complain and moan; about how our country is going in the doldrums the government is corrupt and inefficient, the people are uneducated, the roads are filthy, there is poverty all around, etc. However, very few realize that the change that they are seeking will come from none but themselves. Luckily for Pakistan there are many who decided to stop complaining and become agents of change.

In 2012, Engro Corporation launched a small initiative to recognize these true stalwarts of society who have worked tirelessly to improve access to education, health-care and livelihoods for Pakistan’s poorest of the poor.The initiative aims to collaborate with the corporate and the philanthropic sector of the country and help individuals and institutions who are pioneering initiatives to improve lives across the spheres of Livelihoods, Education and Health.

I Am The Change (IATC) celebrates those who decided it wasn’t enough to moan and groan but to start the rebuilding of our nation one brick at a time. These heroes would have served their causes without fame and recognition but to magnify these causes we need to highlight them, to support them, and to spread their deeds far and wide.

I had the opportunity to meet some of these heroes last year during a bloggers meet that Engro organized at T2F. This year, I was invited to the awards ceremony by Xenith Public Relations, along with very limited people from the Social Media community. I wish there had been more of Social Media representation at the dinner who could have spread the word far and wide through our collective ‘pens’.

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The event was an extravagant affair, some may even call it a bit over-indulgent. However, as a Trustee of a charitable trust (Ihsaas Trust), I understand to some extent why Engro wanted to splurge on it. The ugly truth is that money attracts money. The dinner was for the high and mighty of society, a bid to attract them and to get them to fill out pledge forms to support this cause of highlighting the heroes of society. And sadly those type of people don’t show up to eat daal chawal outside your local masjid. However, I still think the event could have been equally grand with a little less spent on decor, food and ‘shashkay’. For 10% saved off the cost of the event, we could change several lives at Ihsaas Trust or any of the IATC award winners.

This year’s recipients included the Azat Foundation in the category of education, working to provide education and youth empowerment opportunities to individuals from various areas of Baluchistan including Noshki, Kharan, Awaraan amongst others.

In the category of Livelihoods, the award was given to Orangi Pilot Project that continues to focus on urban development and works with the underprivileged in the arena of micro-finance and micro-enterprises, helping set up small businesses such as embroidery, footwear manufacturing and other small cottage industries reaching out to over 100,000 individuals through various projects. The winner in the category of Health was Child Life Foundation (CLF) — an NGO providing comprehensive child health care services from emergency care to prevention. CLF provides free medicines, essential oxygen systems, medical monitors and most importantly trains doctors and nurses to help save the lives of children at imminent risk reaching out to approximately 800 child-patients every day.

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Previous winners of the IATC Awards in the various categories include organizations such as The Dream Foundation; The Garage School; Patients Welfare Association; Karachi Vocational & Training Centre; Child Aid Association; KhwendoKor (Peshawar); Akhuwat (Lahore).

CEVMK8yVAAAU1oTSpeaking at the occasion, Ali Ansari – outgoing President & CEO, Engro Corporation said, “We strongly believe in empowerment of communities by highlighting change agents who are working in high-impact areas such as education, health and livelihoods. Pakistan has a growing young population which will be in need of job opportunities. Coupled with the fact that half of the country cannot read or write and up to 25 million children not having access to school, the country is faced with an education, health and livelihood emergency. In this scenario it is imperative that we join hands to empower agents of change who are working to improve these social issues – IATC is a partnership platform that creates awareness and provides recognition to the unsung heroes from across Pakistan in order to support and multiply their efforts.”

The IATC platform also announced a major development in terms of cross partnerships with different corporate organizations of Pakistan which included Coca-Cola, Mitsubishi Corporation, National Foods, K-Electric amongst others. The winners of the competition were selected based on the scope of their social work; level of impact, number of beneficiaries and the ability to replicate the program amongst other key considerations.The IATC award entails a financial grant along with aiding the NGO in terms of its capacity & organizational development whilst also ensuring employee volunteerism activities.

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The evening included Ayesha Tammy Haq moderating a panel discussion with Ali Ansari and representatives from the corporate sponsors: Abrar Hassan from National Foods Limited, Kimihide Ando from Mitsubishi, and Zohair Sharif from Asiatic Public Relations representing Coca-Cola.

The one message that I found very useful from Ali Ansari’s speech was:

Corporations have slowly now realized that one solution that the world is looking for is Social Change. And that CSR is not just about lip service and throwing money at causes, but getting involved and really fostering change. Engro Corporation is on the right path with the I Am Change initiative. Let’s hope that more and more corporates join in to spark off a domino effect.

Truly Pretty Shades of Summer by Afshan Saira

Glimpses Stolen

With the scorching heat and the humid weather of Karachi, trendy women are always on the look-out for light tints and shades within classy fabrics. And now that Ramzaan hits our land during the hottest of days, there is growing need of summery touch in designer collections.

Afshan Saira’s ‘Pretty Shades of Summer’ is a classic collection of lace tunics and coats with embellishments, foil and screen printed shirts, beautifully embroidered cotton net kurtas and much more. The inspiration for the collection comes from the delectable flowers and colors we see in summers. The collection will be exhibited on the 9th of May, 2015 in DHA for all fashion freaks who would like to wear trendiest stuff to Iftaar parties and Eid get-togethers.

Details of the exhibition are as follows:

Date: 9th May, 2015
Day: Saturday
Timings: 11 am to 8 pm
Venue: 104/II, 7th Commercial Street…

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This article is a Guest post. Views expressed in this article are those of the author and may or may not be the views of From The Pulpit and DiscoMaulvi. To submit content for From The Pulpit, please email FromThePulpit [at] MuhammadAly [dot] Com.

Change your input, determine your future

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"Your input determines your outlook. Your outlook determines your output, and your output determines your future." – Zig Ziglar

So what is OUR input? Well for the average person (myself included) it is the junk we watch on TV, the music we hear in our environment, the violence on we see on TV/streets, the negativity of those around us, the lure of scantily clad models on billboards, etc. How does all this affect our outlook/output? Given that our input is not pure, can we expect our output to be pure as well? And in the end, our future, which we all crave to be Jannah (Paradise), is severely affected by this pollution in our input. So should we not be looking to reduce the fitnah and the haram in our input in order to improve our deeds (output)?

The Prophet (SAW) warned us:

“Temptations are presented to the heart, one by one. Any heart that accepts them will be left with a black stain, but any heart that rejects them will be left with a mark of purity.” (Muslim)

However, remember that at the end of the day it is the grace and mercy of Allah (SWT) that will enable us to protect ourselves, clean our input, and purify our output.

And if not for the Grace of Allah upon you and His mercy, not one of you would have been pure, ever, but Allah purifies whom He wills, and Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (24:21)

May Allah (SWT) help us cleanse our input and make our deeds those which lead us to Jannah.